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Norfolk expands eviction prevention program

Anyone facing evictions can receive help from the city. Originally, only families with children were eligible to apply for the program.

NORFOLK, Va. — For five years, Norfolk has stepped up its efforts to help people facing eviction. Back in 2016, the Princeton Eviction Lab said the city was one of 100 that had high eviction rates. Norfolk's eviction rate was 8.65%.

One of the more recent attempts to help people is the Eviction Diversion and Support program. It started in June but the city hasn't had a large number of applications.

"The beginning of last month, we weren't seeing the numbers we were expecting to see and we said, 'We need to do a little bit more,'" said Kimberley Pierce, the assistant director of Neighborhood Services.

The city received a $560,000 grant through the Department of Housing and Community Development to launch the program. Originally, only families with children could benefit from it. Now, anyone who faces eviction can apply.

Pierce said the goal is to help as many people as possible before funding expires.

"The funding that we received from the state won't carry over," she said. "So we really need to spend it now as opposed to planning out and saying, 'Ok, well if we don't get to everybody by the end of the grant period, we'll have an extension.' That's not going to be the case."

The program helps families with late rent payments, utilities, and even childcare costs.

"So in addition to paying arrearages, for individuals that qualify, we can also make advanced rent payments to help them stay stable until they've been working a couple of months and can afford to maintain the housing," Pierce said.

Pierce hopes to see more applications in the coming weeks. The city has until February 2022 to use the grant money.

You can apply for assistance online or you can call 757-664-RENT.