NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Lawmakers on the Peninsula recently met in Newport News to address the affordable housing crisis.
They’re working to bring solutions to the table to help get families into quality, economic homes.
As inflation causes the cost of everyday items to go up, hourly wages aren’t budging, but rent prices are still skyrocketing.
That’s why state and federal lawmakers gathered to see if there was anything they can do to help.
“A lot of folks thought it was just tied to the pandemic, but we have an eviction problem outside of the pandemic,” said Delegate Marcia Price.
Delegate Price says Virginia was one of the top ten states with the most evictions in 2018.
She says the state was able to put some significant safety nets in place in 2020 and 2021, but she and other lawmakers, like Congressman Bobby Scott, foresee the problem getting worse.
“A lot of people are being evicted unreasonably from their homes and once evicted, trying to get back in a home is much more of a problem,” said Scott.
Director of Newport News Human Services Venerria Thomas sees people every day who are struggling to find housing, or who may be facing eviction or even homelessness.
She says rental housing availability and affordability are big problems.
“I’m hearing everyday from people who are experiencing rent increases that they can’t afford,” said Thomas. “The expensive nature of even applying for housing are barriers for many of the people who are struggling with housing insecurity right now.”
Delegate Price and other lawmakers are working to come up with solutions to help get families into quality homes, including funding eviction diversion programs and coming up with incentives for those building affordable housing.
“We got some significant bill ideas that we’ve tried before that we are going to try again, especially cracking down on slum lords,” said Delegate Price.
“There are many things on the table right now that are being proposed by them and others that I think will be a great assistance to this community,” said Thomas.
Delegate Price says they’re working at the local, state and federal levels to come up with solutions.
If you are facing a housing crisis, and you live in Newport News, you can get in touch with the Human Services Division here.