Gov. Ralph Northam has announced the state’s temporary moratorium on eviction proceedings has been extended until June 29 to allow time for his administration to launch a planned COVID-19 rent relief initiative.
Northam requested the extension in a letter sent to Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Lemons over the weekend. Lemons issued an order Monday that modifies the Court’s earlier Declaration of Judicial Emergency in response to COVID-19.
The temporary moratorium will halt all eviction proceedings for a period of nearly three weeks as the Northam administration works to implement a comprehensive rent relief program for Virginians “facing housing insecurity in the midst of this public health crisis,” according to a June 8 press release.
“Access to safe and stable housing is critically important, and this action will keep thousands of families in their homes as we work to get them the support they need,” Northam said.
Northam’s rent relief initiative, which supported by federal CARES Act funding, will be announced in the coming weeks.
Northam’s action was lauded by Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement, also known as VOICE, which had urged Northam to extend the judicial moratorium in place during the quarantine portion of the pandemic. VOICE launched a listening campaign in Northern Virginia at the start of the pandemic to investigate how COVID-19 was impacting residents’ lives.
“The number one issue VOICE heard was fear of eviction,” VOICE said in a press release Monday.
"We thank the governor for his request to the Virginia Supreme Court to temporarily halt evictions. As a result of this action, tens of thousands of families, mostly families of color, will not be forced from their homes as a result of income lost through no fault of their own," the Rev. Dr. Darrell King of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Gum Springs, Alexandria, said in a VOICE press release.
"We look forward to working with the Governor and other state leaders in the days ahead to address the dual crises facing our country -- COVID-19 and the impact of systemic racism."