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Activists Halt Northside Eviction, At Least Until Federal Protections End

Woman and Man
Katrina Kates Pitt and Henry Loftin were able to stay in there homes after a judge ruled they could not be evicted. Activists helped them file the CDC paperwork needed to prevent their eviction. (Photo: Whittney Evans/VPM News)

Residents in Richmond’s Northside who were facing eviction will be able to stay in their home through at least December -- due in large part to the work of anti-eviction activists. 

“I was feeling empty,” said Katrina Kates Pitt. “Just, like where am I going to go? The shelters are full up too. So I was very, very anxious and nervous.” 

Pitt sat in a chair on her front porch Friday morning while dozens of activists filled her fenced-in front yard. They were bracing for a potential confrontation with sheriff’s deputies scheduled to carry out Pitt’s eviction. 

“It’s just wonderful, awesome, that they came out to help me out,” said Pitt. 

But there was no confrontation. 

People gathered outside house
Activists gathered outside Pitt and Loftin's residence in preparation for a potential conflict with sheriff's deputies. (Photo: Whittney Evans/VPM News)

On the other side of town, a Richmond judge informed Pitt’s landlord that he had to let her stay. 

The landlord, Gordon James Estrada, declined to comment but confirmed the tenants would not be evicted. 

There’s a national ban on evictions through the end of December. The catch is that residents have to apply and qualify using a declaration form from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Otherwise, landlords can continue ousting tenants who fall behind on rent or violate the terms of their lease. 

Adrianna Carpenter was one of the activists outside Pitt’s home. She’s part of a group that shows up to eviction hearings to support tenants. She said she ran into Pitt at the courthouse a few days ago. The group helped her submit the CDC paperwork and petition for another hearing before the judge.  

“We were able to get the motion for an emergency hearing this morning for the judge to tell him that he could not evict her,” Carpenter said. “[This was] a very successful morning.”

There have been 3,774 eviction filings in Richmond since the start of the pandemic, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University - despite bans at the state and federal levels. Virginia’s eviction moratorium ended in early September. 

Carpenter said today was a big win, but she’s worried about what’s going to happen in December when the federal government will decide whether to discontinue the current protections or keep them in place. 

“We are going to be doing more of these, I suppose,” Carpenter said. 

But she’s hopeful more relief will come. 

“I think it’s going to become very much a community defense issue. We’re going to be looking at a tidal wave of evictions coming in January.”