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Study highlights homelessness, eviction rate in Richmond

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — “Sheriff’s office! Anybody home?” yelled a sheriff’s deputy with his hand over his gun, his holster unsnapped.

Deputy John Vaughan opened the door of an apartment that was empty enough to make his voice echo. A red scooter and an old crib were the only items left.

“Cleared!” he yelled after inspecting each room. The apartment complex’s custodian, who had been waiting outside, was allowed in and quickly began to change the locks.

The same scene was witnessed 14 times by a Washington Post reporter one November morning in this state capital, which according to data collected at Princeton’s Eviction Lab has the second-highest eviction rate in the country.

The Richmond City Sheriff’s Office had a light load that day: 55 eviction orders. On more typical days, the number jumps to 70 or higher, officials said.


In Southwood, a neighborhood where rents range from $500 to $800 a month for two-bedroom townhouses and apartments, advocates say it has become common to see people cram their belongings into plastic bags, place them in car trunks and leave their apartments before a handful of deputies come to knock on their door.

For many, these scenes are not new.

Advocates and experts say the eviction tradition in Richmond and other Southern cities and towns dates back generations, and has affected black communities the most.

“There has been a housing crisis, an eviction crisis and a displacement crisis for several decades,” said Benjamin Teresa, co-director of the RVA Eviction Lab at Virginia Commonwealth University, who has studied housing issues in Virginia and other Southern states.

He points to laws favoring landlords like “pay or quit,” which allows property owners to launch eviction proceedings five days after the payment grace period (other states provide up to 30 days).

TENANTS’ RIGHTS

Teresa said minority communities in Richmond are subjected to predatory lending and discrimination, especially renters who use federal housing vouchers. Landlords can refuse to accept vouchers, and he said landlords who do accept them often steer tenants to housing in poor neighborhoods.

With a new Democratic majority in the General Assembly, advocates were hoping for ambitious housing reform across the commonwealth this year. More than a dozen measures were introduced to tackle housing issues, but none “explicitly deals with eviction,” said Christie Marra, a family and housing attorney with the Virginia Poverty Law Center.


She said most of the focus has been on giving tenants tools to ensure their housing is safe and habitable, cap fees assessed after late rent payments and force landlords to make or pay for repairs.

A measure requiring landlords to provide tenants a list of their rights and responsibilities at the beginning of the lease term was approved by the Senate with bipartisan support and is awaiting action by the House.

The Senate unanimously approved and sent to the House a bill that would give tenants the right to make essential repairs and deduct them from their rent if a landlord refuses or does not take care of the issue within 14 days.

Another bill, proposed by state Sen. Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax) would allow judges to expunge eviction records from cases that were dismissed or withdrawn by the landlord. Such records can make it hard for renters to secure future leases. The bill passed the Senate unanimously, and it is expected to be heard in the House this week.

And despite opposition, the House approved 61 to 37 a bill that bans landlords from refusing housing vouchers as payment. The measure was referred to the Senate.

Marra said the legislation is leading the state in the right direction.

“I think we all needed time to see what could get done in some of these other areas,” she said. “And then regroup once this session ends to try to really focus on gathering together groups of tenants in the high-evicting areas to hear directly from them.”

PHONE CALLS AND MOTELS

A few days after Vaughan searched the apartment with the red scooter, Laurette Turner, 64, sat at the end of a hotel bed on the other side of Richmond. She was talking to yet another employee of a housing organization that aims to help evictees.

She was evicted in June, along with her daughter and three grandchildren, from a government-subsidized apartment complex where she had lived for more than eight years, mostly on disability payments and government assistance.

Turner said the property managers at the Townes at River South apartments lost two of her rent payments; staff at the complex said they were unable to comment on her case.

For more than six months, Turner sought help from nonprofits and government organizations in searching for permanent housing. Having an eviction on her rental record meant many landlords turned her away, she said, so cheap hotels were often the only option.

She compared rates, called reception desks, negotiated with case managers for enough funding to stay for a few days or a week. Each time she needed to leave, she moved her family’s belongings in plastic bags.

“Everybody thinks the homeless are the people on the street or the people walking up and down the street for money. Or people sleeping in their cars,” she said in her room at the Quality Inn in Northside Richmond. “But it’s more than that.”

Before Christmas, she found a landlord willing to rent the family a townhouse for six months. “It has three bedrooms, one bath, living room, dining area and kitchen with washer and dryer hookups,” she texted a Washington Post reporter. “Thank God for his grace and mercy.”

Turner has been trying to get the landlord to install a washer and dryer, and she hopes to extend the lease until the end of 2020. She also wants to pay a credit repair service she saw on television, which she believes could get the eviction erased from her record.

“I’m going to find out,” she said on Feb. 11.

DOING HIS JOB

Those carrying out removals were unaware that an eviction epidemic was plaguing their hometown until Princeton’s Eviction Lab study, which found that the 10 U.S. cities with the highest eviction rates included five in Virginia: Richmond, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Chesapeake.

“It was an eye-opener,” said Civil Process Sgt. Larry Trotter. “We have five deputies and we’re at number two. It’s not a number you celebrate. Nobody was celebrating.”

The attention, he says, prompted roundtable discussions with Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and local officials, who sought his input on how to decrease the eviction rate. He said he believes, however, that those efforts were flawed.

“The ones at the roundtables should have been the judges, and the ones who make these laws,” Trotter said. “Everybody wants a quick fix. There is no quick fix to it.”

Trotter, who is black and grew up in Petersburg, about 20 miles south of Richmond, said he became a deputy sheriff because he wanted to help society and give law enforcement a positive light in his community.

“I wanted to be the person that people can say, ‘Okay, he has a badge, but he’s still him. He has a badge, but he’s not out here abusing me,’ ” he said. “Because that’s what I seen coming up.”

Years ago, Trotter was on the other side of an eviction order. He was unemployed and recovering from knee surgery when he was put out of his apartment.

He lived in his car and sent his family to stay with his in-laws.

He draws from his personal story to try to help those he evicts, telling them that instead of putting blame on others, they should instead learn what options are available and ask, “Where do I go from here?”

He carries pamphlets in his shirt pocket with information on legal and housing services, and even talks to evictees about openings at the sheriff’s office.

“I can do no more, no less with the power that I’m given,” Trotter said. “You don’t want to put people out, but you have to because you have to do your job.”

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TML announce launch of new residential Lumi products

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Steve Griffiths TML





A new, Lumi-branded, residential product has been launched by The Mortgage Lender, following a rise in demand from borrowers who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

TML say that the range is available up to 75% loan to value, across four Lumi categories and caters for customers with defaults, CCJs, and mortgage arrears. It also offers enhanced credit criteria for unsecured arrears, bankruptcy and payday loans when compared to TML’s core range.

Lumi products are available for employed, self-employed and complex income applicants. The minimum loan is £25,001 and the maximum loan is £1m with rates starting at 4.98% for a two-year fix and 5.29% for a five-year fix at 70% loan to value.

Steve Griffiths, The Mortgage Lender sales and product director, said: “Now more than ever lenders need to have criteria that caters for a wide range of customer circumstances and recognise that the last 12 months has been financially difficult for many people.

“Our Lumi range, which is available through specialist distributors, takes a pragmatic approach to the real-world experience many of our broker partners are presented with when they are sourcing a mortgage for their clients.

“It offers fair rates combined with a flexible approach to underwriting that provides a stepping-stone for home-movers or those remortgaging and, in some cases, credit repair.”

Doug Hall, 3mc director, adds: “We are seeing increasing numbers of customers whose financial situation has been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic who need products that are appropriate for their circumstances now.

“Through sharing our knowledge and challenges with lenders, like TML, the specialist lending sector is proving it can meet those needs in a responsible way. The launch of Lumi is great news for brokers and customers. It shows lenders are listening and able to respond to the market, improving customer choice and competition.”

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how to boost a bad credit rating

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HOLLAND, Mich. — Your credit score is just a number, but it can make a difference in your ability to get a loan, house, or even a job ,and after a tough year for finances, now is an important time to pay attention to your score.

“You need to have options, and you need to be able to have access, and all of that boils right back down to your credit score,” says Bree Austin-Roberts, a credit expert and founder of Lakeshore Credit Management and Repair Services in Holland. “I think it was a reality check for a lot of people to saying, ‘Hey, it’s time for me to start thinking about my financial situation.’”

Bree’s story is similar to so many of her clients. A few years ago, before she founded her credit repair business, she and her family were evicted from their apartment. Searching for a house and facing homelessness, Bree noticed a similar roadblock everywhere she looked.

“The credit became a problem,” she said. “It always boiled back down to the credit.”

Bree buckled down on payments and in no time had raised her credit score enough to move her family into a home and start up her business. Now helping others achieve the same success, Bree says a few simple adjustments can make a big difference. Her first call was to the three major credit bureaus to check the accuracy of her score.

“Like 80 percent of people in the United States have something that’s inaccurate on their credit report, but a lot of people don’t know because they don’t monitor their credit.”

So start by checking with TransUnion, Equifax and Experian on the accuracy of your score.

If you’re having a tough time making payments this year on bills or installment loans (which Bree says you should always have at least one of), try contacting your creditors to see if they can delay payments or work out some sort of payment plan that works for you.

“Directly related to the pandemic, a lot of lenders are being very lenient,” said Bree.

In addition to making all your monthly credit card payments on time when you can, Bree says it also matters how often you use your credit card, and on what. She says most repair experts will recommend you keep your card usage below 30 percent, but Bree recommends a lower limit for her clients.

“When you’re in the building process, you want to keep it 10 percent or below,” she said. “If you’re planning on making a major purchase in like 30 to 60 days, you probably want to keep your credit card balances between 1 and 3 percent.”

Other tips include becoming an authorized user on a loved one’s credit card. If they have good credit, spending responsibly on their account could help boost your score faster. Just have them ask their bank or credit union about adding you as an authorized user.

You can also open a secured card on your own. A secured credit card is essentially a prepaid card that ensures you don’t miss payments.

And remember: no credit doesn’t mean good credit. Lenders want to see you can responsibly handle debt.

“Having something to report is positive, but it’s the amount that reports that shows your credit worthiness,” said Bree.

What it boils down to, Bree says, is having good habits and sticking to them. Building or rebuilding credit is a marathon, not a sprint, and Bree says patience is key.

“I was never always a credit expert. It was trial and error,” she said. “I have been there before, and it doesn’t take much to end up right back there again if you’re not budgeting well–if you’re not being credit conscious.”

You can reach Bree at [email protected] or on her website or her Facebook and use the hashtags #lakeshoreCredit and #CreditQueen to join the conversation with her.

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Adam Reich On His Journey From A Bodybuilder To Building His Own Empire And Making People Financially Independent

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Adam Reich

Adam Reich was born on December 17th, 1985, and brought up in Long Island, New York. Gym and fitness lover, Adam Reich, founder of True Credit Repair, Passive Profits Ecom Automation, ReinventU wellness center, and Health Supplements didn’t always have it all. He found a great deal of success in bodybuilding competitions when he was young. He was falling short of turning professional and thus, in the time that he had, he built a late online personal training business with over 100 subscription-based clients. In 2014, Adam Reich was blessed with twin daughters and a few months later, he had to go take up a job for the New York City department of corrections on Rikers Island. He worked 16 hours a day for 5 years straight surrounded by a bunch of violent people. It was an unsafe job. Adam Reich got fed up and decided to invest all the little money he had onto himself. He worked hard and invested all of his time to finally have something of his own and he did, not just one but multiple companies with 7 figure turnovers.

Adam believes that the success he has had by far is because of the client relations and the results and satisfaction that he and his company have given over time. He believes that he should treat his clients exactly how he would expect to be treated as a customer himself. The reason behind investing in a credit repair agency was because Adam Reich first paid to have his credit repaired by the same parent company and 4 months later his credit soared from 550 to 740 and that opened a plethora of financial opportunities for himself. All of his companies are driven by customer satisfaction. He has learned that he must never over-promise to make a sale. He provides a service to his clients that he is proud of but sometimes he tends to over-deliver but he has learned from his past mistakes. Adam Reich believes that delivering a product is important but what’s more important is building a brand along with a reputation as this would help him and his company in the longer run.

Since Adam Reich realized his worth was more than that 9 to 5 job, within 6 months, he left the prior job to invest in himself, moved to Boca with his family, and built a beautiful life in South Florida. It has been great for Adam since then as he has been able to increase his salary tenfold and all the credit goes to his determination and hard work. He also worked towards making it easier for his clients to change their financial situation by providing them with abundant opportunities. That’s all that Adam has always wanted, to help others better their situations. He has had the time to experience a 9-5 job and knows how it feels to miss important events and not being able to spend time with family because of lack of financial freedom which is why he has built this empire so that nobody else has to go through what he went through.

Adam Reich has always kept his priorities straight and his clients are everything to his brand. He goes out and about for them and relates with each individual. He believes in the saying, “show me your friends and I’ll show you you’re future” and that’s why he surrounds himself with the right people always. Since he moved down to South Florida from New York, he has made sure to keep the right people beside him who give him the motivation he strived for. Adam Reich even met his fellow investors at that time and is friends with them. These are the people he used to look up to and hoped to become like them one day. To the colleagues in his industry, Adam Reich wants to mention that people should focus their energy more on customer service. Building results and winning client’s trust is very important to go far ahead in this business.

 

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