CHARLESTON, WV — The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia joined its other affiliates across the country in sending letters to local elected officials urging them to enact or expand a statewide ban against evictions and utilities being shut off.
According to Eviction Lab data from 2000 to 2016, West Virginia has a 3.52% eviction rate. The state has averaged 22.52 eviction daily and has evicted 8,268 people overall during this time frame.
The ACLU is calling for the prevention of mass evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 crisis has created significant hardships for all renters, and the burden will likely fall primarily on women and Black West Virginians,” said ACLU-WV Policy Director Eli Baumwell. “The existing moratorium on court actions does not go far enough in protecting them, and the lifting of that moratorium and other restrictions has the potential to create a housing crisis unless protections are put in place now.”
In the organization’s letter, they are calling on Gov. Jim Justice to expand a ban including:
- Apply to all types of tenants and lease violations.
- Continue to prevent mass evictions during and after the pandemic.
- Halt every stage of the eviction process.
- Prohibit the collection of late fees and retaliation against tenants who assert their rights under the moratorium.
- Prohibit utility shut-offs and require restoration of previously disconnected services.
“As millions of people lose their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, renters are faced with the added threat of being put out of their homes or cut off from access to utilities during a global crisis,” said Sandra Park, senior attorney at the ACLU. “Evictions and utility shut-offs will disproportionately harm communities of color, and particularly, women of color. All residents — regardless of their circumstances or background — should have access to safe and stable housing throughout the course of this ongoing public health crisis.”