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Support our Housing Work

From Clio Schurtz, New River Valley Organizer

Picture of a white woman with long blond hair standing in front of a large bush outside

When I was 12 years old, I asked my best friend if I could live with her for a while because the bank was taking our house. I didn’t understand what that meant at the time, nor did anyone else my age. We moved into a smaller rental for two years, until—as I understood it—someone decided we were too poor to live there, too. 

When I was 14, I was excited to learn we were moving to Charlottesville, but my heart sank a little when I learned I had the option of sharing my bedroom with the washer and dryer or my brother. I got used to seeing news articles about shootings in the complex featuring photos with my father’s car in the background. My mother told me not to walk the dog by myself anymore, and I stopped having friends over, embarrassed by our address and empty fridge. 

At the time, I felt isolated by our housing instability, and it’s not something I felt comfortable talking about. I have since learned that it is one of the biggest issues facing not only Charlottesville, but the entire state. The stigma, however, persists and insidiously isolates those already experiencing hardship. I grew furious watching rich politicians debate who deserved assistance with housing, never seeming to come to a conclusion that helped anyone. Over the next few years, I figured out how to turn my anger outward, learning about how to move power from the hands of politicians to those of the people.

After graduating from college, I applied to become a community organizer at Virginia Organizing because I have always believed that the power is with the people, not just those with the resources to make themselves heard. In my first six months as an organizer, I have only become more passionate about that belief. I’m working with residents of the New River Valley to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable housing not only because of my own experience with housing insecurity, but because it is a story relatable to so many. Along with members of the chapter, I’ve been tabling at community events to spread the word about our housing campaign, meeting with the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors to discuss much needed home repairs for low-income residents, and building relationships with members of the New River Valley community. The work doesn’t stop there, though.

Housing insecurity is a multifaceted issue that requires more than a single solution. In the New River Valley, we’re organizing for a whole home repair fund that would allow low-income tenants to repair and remain in homes that already exist, rather than building new ones. In Richmond and Waynesboro, our members are working to implement an adequate rental inspection program in their cities. The Harrisonburg Chapter is bringing people together in a mobile home community to demand better maintenance from the property owners. And we continue to work for legislation at the state level to protect people from evictions, discrimination, homelessness, and ridiculous rent hikes. I am so proud to be part of Virginia Organizing’s efforts to make this a reality.

Thank you for being part of Virginia Organizing! Please donate today.

Support our Housing Work Reviewed by on . From Clio Schurtz, New River Valley Organizer When I was 12 years old, I asked my best friend if I could live with her for a while because the bank was taking o From Clio Schurtz, New River Valley Organizer When I was 12 years old, I asked my best friend if I could live with her for a while because the bank was taking o Rating: 0
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