Mia Luckett | Contributing Writer
In a recent Princeton University study, five Virginia cities were ranked among the top 10 cities that have the highest eviction rates, including Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Richmond.
According to research found on EvictionLab.org, about one in every 10 renters in the area is evicted. It is notable that Virginia cities on the list are predominately African American communities.
Sophomore Ashanti Sallee, a Portsmouth resident and Hampton University student, does not find this news surprising.
“I have lived in Hampton Roads for the majority of my life and I believe that there is a big gap in the cost of living and the wages in this area,” Sallee said.
“Therefore, people aren’t making enough money to cover their monthly expenses which leads to eviction.”
HU sophomore Derrick Collins agrees that wage gaps are the cause for this phenomenon.
“Being from an entirely different state hundreds of miles away, I find it disheartening that black communities in this area are facing the highest rates of eviction,” Collins said.
“I think it’s because of the racial and gender wage gap. African Americans don’t make as much as their white counterparts and therefore can’t afford to pay basic living necessities such as rent.”
The site stated that understanding the sudden, traumatic loss of home through eviction is foundational to understanding poverty in America.
Princeton University’s research is the first of its kind and is the first nationwide database of evictions. Sallee finds this innovative kind of research useful and necessary
“I’ve lived in the Hampton Roads area for the majority of my life, and I was never aware of these statistics,” Sallee said.
“This study has helped me analyze my community and see that we have issues in this area.”
Princeton’s research also show that low-income women, especially poor women of color, domestic violence families, and families with children have a high risk of eviction.
Both Sallee and Collins think this data proves just how prevalent racial and gender disparities are in America.
“These statistics show just how people of color and women are oppressed time and time again, in nearly every aspect of life,” Collins said.
“They are always the ones who get the short end of the stick, and it’s sad.”
According to the study, most poor renting families today spend at least half of their income on housing costs, and one in four of families spends over 70 percent of their income just on rent and utilities.
Sallee also believes that the state of the economy is to blame for the eviction epidemic.
“I believe the majority of the blame lies on the economy,” Sallee said.
If the cost of living is increasing, then wages should be increasing with it, Sallee added.
“On a national scale, there are more single mothers than single fathers raising children alone, and there are more single mothers of color than Caucasian single mothers raising children alone.
“Therefore, it is more likely that a woman of color who has a low income job, caring for children by herself and trying to pay for rent and utilities every month, is at risk.”
The study calls attention to issues such as eviction that ultimately add to the understanding of poverty.