Five Virginia cities make top 10 list for highest eviction rates

Mia Luckett | Contributing Writer

SP4.png
Flickr user: Rickonine

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.

Why Virginia?

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.

Virginia colleges require parents’ visa status for students’ admittance

Mia Luckett | Contributing Writer

3452984556_152c4b93ce_z.jpg
Flickr User: Benuski

Quetzali Cruz is a high school senior with a 4.03 GPA, working toward an international baccalaureate diploma. One would think these accolades would be enough to receive benefits from the state’s second oldest institution, William & Mary.

Although Cruz’s transcript proved she was a Virginia citizen, when William and Mary officials asked for the visa status of her parents, Cruz was denied in-state tuition.

Colleges in Virginia such as William & Mary, Christopher Newport and Old Dominion have required students to provide their parents’ immigration papers in the admissions application process.

Students at Hampton find these practices of neighboring Virginia universities to be unfair. Sophomore Mecca Gladney voiced her frustration with the legislation.

“This legislation is problematic because it holds students, who want to further their education, accountable for issues that they have no control over,” Gladney said.

“A lot of children are born here, and their parents work hard to make sure their children have better lives, so denying them access to education and/or at a cheaper price for education is not fair.”

According to the Washington Post, this has been happening to students all over the state. Eric Wolf Welch, a veteran social studies teacher who runs the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) college preparation program at Cruz’s high school, said three universities – Old Dominion, Christopher Newport and William & Mary – have demanded parents’ immigration papers from his students.

HU sophomore Vashon Gordon believes that this kind of legislation promotes inequality.

“We represent ourselves. I shouldn’t have to suffer just because of the status of my parents,” Gordon said. “Just because their parents weren’t born here doesn’t make them any less or different or any less worthy of state benefits.”

Though the federal and state courts have ruled that U.S. adult citizens cannot be denied access to financial aid due to the citizen status of their parents, universities defend the policy because they claim federal and state financial aid rules automatically assume persons under 24 are dependent on their parents, and the parent must prove state citizenship for the student to qualify for in state tuition and financial aid.

Gordon disagrees, stating that this is not a good enough argument to deny students financial aid.

“A lot of students in college are not dependent on their parents,” Gordon said.

“A lot of students are first generations, and they may be on their own without their parents’ help. You can’t assume everyone’s parents are helping them out. Some people come from backgrounds with one parent, and that one parent may not be able to help them. Are the [students] really dependent?”

Representatives from William & Mary and Christopher Newport have confirmed this practice, stating that it falls within Virginia law.

Hampton students find that Virginia schools have just begun to enforce this legislation because of the influence of the current administration.

“According to the United States president, there are many “issues” with people being in the country illegally, and although this may be true, children should not be punished for their parents’ actions,” Gladney said.

Sophomore Lakiylah Mitchell also believes Virginia schools must enforce these legislations because of the power the administrative holds.

“I really would say the current presidency because he has enacted a lot of laws against immigrants particularly, however Virginia is not supportive of the presidency, as can be evident through our votes,” Mitchell said.

“The state is very democratic and not supportive of his laws. However, he is still a person in power, and we have no choice but to go along with him. But it’s not OK.”

Florida, New Jersey, South Carolina and the District of Columbia have all been sued for the same practice, ruling it unconstitutional in every court case.