Home Virginia Organizing calls on Waynesboro City Council to improve tenants’ rights

Virginia Organizing calls on Waynesboro City Council to improve tenants’ rights

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Virginia Organizing will hold a rally on Saturday to draw attention to its effort to get Waynesboro City Council to address the barriers renters face to finding and keeping affordable, safe and quality rental housing.

The 1 p.m. rally will begin at the intersection of North Delphine Avenue and East Main Street.

“Some Waynesboro landlords don’t seem to be invested in the community,” Waynesboro chapter leader Victor Monti said. “There are substandard housing conditions with bug and rat infestations, mold and mushroom growth, and other problems. We also suffer from high rates of unjust eviction proceedings – Waynesboro has the 84th highest eviction rate in the country amongst mid-sized cities – and rising costs of rent that far outpace local wages.”

According to the American Community Survey, nearly 32 percent of housing units in Waynesboro have substandard living conditions. In the Basic City neighborhood of Waynesboro, it jumps to almost 40 percent of housing units. This is one of the highest rates in the Valley.

Waynesboro chapter leader Philip Sorrells  lived this statistic firsthand.

“I was recently forced to move out of an apartment on Commerce Avenue due to terrible living conditions that were impacting my health and making it unsafe to continue living there. My apartment had black mold, bug infestations, a malfunctioning oven, no fire extinguisher, and a ton of other issues. It felt like my landlord didn’t care that I was suffering,” Sorrells said.

Emily Smarte, a local renter and Waynesboro chapter leader, agrees.

“Predatory landlord practices in Waynesboro continue to go unchecked by our City Council and local representatives. The citizens of Waynesboro deserve better. We don’t need more $600,000 housing developments. We need safe and affordable living options that reflect the average workers’ salary in the Valley, and we need accountability for landlords who take advantage,” Smarte said.

AJ Young, fellow chapter leader, thinks the time to act on tenants’ rights is now.

“The residents of Waynesboro must have access to affordable housing that meets the same living conditions of any city official. Those who serve this city must be intentional about code enforcement for landlords who rent substandard properties, and they must make affordable housing a staple of this community instead of an option,” Young said. “Waynesboro identified strengthening rental properties as an objective for the city in their 2018 Comprehensive Plan. We want to see action taken on this ASAP.”



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