RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In a letter last week to Virginia Supreme Court Justice Donald Lemons, Gov. Ralph Northam asked the state’s highest court to renew and extend a ban on evictions until Sept. 7.

Northam’s plea comes as thousands of Virginians could be evicted from their homes with the threat of the coronavirus pandemic still looming large. There are nearly 1,500 eviction cases set to be heard in the city of Richmond alone, according to Mayor Levar Stoney, after a statewide freeze on evictions ended last month.

“The rise in COVID-19 cases has dampened the Commonwealth’s ability to recover from the economic crisis following in the wake of the pandemic,” the governor wrote. “This economic crisis has exacerbated the financial distress of many households across the Commonwealth, and it will likely increase the number of unlawful detainer actions as Virginians struggle to pay their bills.”

A spokeswoman for the governor, Alena Yarmosky, told 8News that Northam’s administration is paying close attention to court dockets in order to keep track of the cases. More than 6,000 eviction cases are scheduled to go to court between July 20 and Aug. 7, 8News was told.

“There remains the distinct threat that the most vulnerable Virginians will be evicted from their homes at a time when our public health crisis is expanding rather than contracting,” Northam continues in the letter. “The need for Virginians to maintain safe, stable housing is vitally important if we are to fight successfully this virus.”

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