- Associated Press - Thursday, April 12, 2018

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Legal aid attorneys and affordable housing advocates from across Virginia have formed a coalition to try to figure out why Richmond and several other cities in the state have some of the highest eviction rates in the country.

The new group was formed in response to data published last week by The New York Times showing that in 2016, landlords were given the legal right to remove at least one in nine renter households in Richmond. Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Chesapeake also had high eviction rates.

The Campaign to Reduce Eviction will hold its first meeting May 22 in Richmond.

Christie Marra, a lawyer with the Virginia Poverty Law Center, said a shortage of affordable rental housing and state laws favoring landlords contribute to the high number of evictions. But she said the coalition wants to dig deeper into the reasons why evictions are so prevalent in Virginia and come up with ways to keep families in their homes.

“One of the key goals of this campaign is - by gathering data and comparing data from other states and laws from other states to our laws - to figure out what is behind these numbers,” Marra said. “We can’t start to really implement and advocate for things to reduce the eviction numbers until we understand what’s behind them.”

The data was collected through court records by a team headed by Princeton sociology professor Matthew Desmond, author of the 2016 book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.”

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