Editorial – McEachin served with distinction

Published 8:15 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2022

We were saddened by news on deadline of U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin’s passing after a battle with colon cancer.

McEachin had capably represented Surry County and the Richmond area in Congress since 2016, following service in both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly. In each stop in his legislative career, the Democrat championed reforms to gun laws, environmental protection and affordable health care. Regardless of your political position on those issues, McEachin was a respected ally or adversary, advocating forcefully but unemotionally for the causes he believed in.

As news broke of his death, we were preparing for publication a Capital News Service article on McEachin’s plans to prioritize housing security in his fourth term, to which he was elected this month in a landslide in Virginia’s 4th District, which stretches from parts of Henrico County south to Emporia, westward to Brunswick County and east over to Surry. He got 65% of the vote against previous Republican challenger Leon Benjamin, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

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The most populous areas of the 4th District have faced a tumultuous few years in almost every aspect of the housing market, CNS reported. Rent increases ranged from 14% in Richmond to 28% in Henrico County between 2021 and 2022, according to CoStar data published in March.

Evictions increased 678% in Chesterfield County, 340% in Henrico, 513% in the city of Hopewell, 582% in the city of Petersburg and 751% in Richmond from 2021 to 2022, according to data from the RVA Eviction Lab.

“I will continue fighting to expand and improve affordable housing, bolster rental assistance and other resources and explore additional legislative avenues to help tackle our nation’s housing crisis,” McEachin told CNS in an email.

His final accomplishments in Congress included securing $1.6 million in Housing and Urban Development funding to combat youth homelessness earlier in the year, along with almost $400,000 from Veteran Affairs to help with housing for homeless veterans.

His service will be missed.