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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

Today: Richmond Candidate Forum to Focus on 'Housing Crisis'

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Tuesday, September 12, 2023   

Advocates for affordable housing in Virginia are holding a forum today for Richmond region candidates to speak with local residents about the state's housing crisis. Across Virginia, the median rent has increased 24%. Earlier this year, the City of Richmond declared a housing crisis based on low housing inventory. Virginia's General Assembly has taken up legislation to aid with this issue in the past, though it hasn't always been successful.

Laura Dobbs, policy director for Housing Opportunities Made Equal, said there are things the state can do.

"The state needs to invest a lot in housing," she said. "Both on the affordable side of simply preserving our existing affordable housing stock, building more affordable housing, but also on the home ownership side."

She added the state has an opportunity to invest in a more robust down-payment assistance program for homeowners. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates Virginia has more than 250,000 extremely low-income households, but only around 80,000 affordable homes available to rent. The forum starts at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 in Auditorium 101 of the Richmond Public Library's Main Branch.

The Richmond Eviction Lab finds statewide, eviction filings increased almost 4% between the end of 2022 and early 2023. But eviction judgements declined more than 9% in the same time period.

Christie Marra, housing advocacy director with the Virginia Poverty Law Center, thinks pandemic-era protections need to be reinstated to prevent eviction risks from rising further.

"We'd like to see the requirement that landlords provide information to tenants on that 'pay or quit' notice, about where they can go to get rental assistance, if their locality has anything," she explained.

Marra also called for the 14 day 'pay or quit' eviction notice be brought back. She said the state knows what works, but elected officials need to have the courage to implement these policies.

Disclosure: Virginia Poverty Law Center contributes to our fund for reporting on Civil Rights, Housing/Homelessness, Poverty Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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