Eviction and Rental Housing in the Commonwealth

Eviction and Rental Housing in the Commonwealth

Kathryn Howell, PhD

RVA Eviction Lab


Communities across the Commonwealth of Virginia face high rates of eviction that can lead to neighborhood instability. At the same time, the state faces a shortage of affordable housing and high rates of cost burden and extreme cost burden. Families experiencing high cost burden have little room for error in their monthly budgets, meaning that one bad day can translate into an eviction that causes significant housing instability, including multiple moves or homelessness.

Across Virginia, almost half of all renter households are housing cost burdened, meaning that they pay more than 30% of their incomes for housing. These numbers become more extreme when broken down by income. Table 1 illustrates rent burden by income and region. Extremely Low Income Households (ELI), or those earning less than 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI) have the highest cost burden at 87% statewide, followed by Very Low Income (VLI) Households, or those earning between 30% and 50% of AMI at 80%. Meanwhile, statewide, 72% of ELI renter households face extreme cost burden, meaning that they pay more than 50% of their incomes for housing.

Previous research from the RVA Eviction Lab found that even controlling for income, race and other factors, housing cost burden was a critical contributor to rises in the eviction rate at the neighborhood level. This paper examines the existing housing stock, primarily in the Richmond region to understand the relationship that cost burden may have to high eviction rates in the region. We find that a robust housing preservation and production strategy must focus on housing for households earning less than 50% of the Area Median Income to reduce rent burden and prevent future evictions.