$1M grant will help renters facing eviction in Greater Williamsburg area


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — A $1-million grant will help residents in Greater Williamsburg facing eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press conference Monday morning, the Williamsburg Health Foundation announced its investment in the community to help an issue they say is strongly connected to the health of the community.

“There is a profound, multifaceted connection between one’s housing and one’s health,” said Carol L. Sale, president and CEO of WHF in a press release. “So profound that Trustees of the Williamsburg Health Foundation made the challenging decision to increase the foundation’s annual spending limit this year which required reaching into the foundation’s corpus to fund this program. This is a unique and important million-dollar investment for us and for the entire community.”

Residents living in Williamsburg, James City County, or York County will be eligible to apply when the application process opens on Feb. 1. Officials say those in need of help can apply throughout 2021 until funding runs out.

The grant is for those with low- to moderate-income and documentation will be required showing that COVID-19 has made it difficult to pay rent.

“We know there are individuals prior to the pandemic who weren’t living in luxury but were getting by,” Sale said. “They were meeting their bills, paying their rent, putting meals on the table for their kids. They were living paycheck to paycheck but when the pandemic came through, it knocked them off their feet and into this situation.”

The grant is the largest single-grant investment by the foundation in 2020.

“A million dollars is a lot to us,” said Allison Brody, who is the director of community engagement for the foundation.

Officials with the foundation said during the press conference that after meeting with state and local officials as well as other organizations in the community, they determined that the potential housing crisis would be the most devastating consequence of the pandemic and when housing is compromised, so is health.

“We want the community to see the critical connection between one’s housing and one’s health. We’re demonstrating it with a very large investment of a million dollars,” Brody said.

During the virtual press conference, Sale said that residents shouldn’t have to make tough decisions during this time and compromise one’s health.

“You can’t continue to take meds if you are living in your car and figuring where to take your meal,” she said.

The foundation is hoping people who need the assistance ask and will also be able to get other resources the city and counties have available.

Officials with the foundation say that the area has some of the highest rates of homelessness in their school districts and want to keep them from climbing especially when the community is already struggling because its economy is based on tourism.

“We are certain this will prevent a bad situation from becoming a desperate situation,” said Sale.

The emergency rent will only be available for up to three months.

Applicants also must be at or below 120% of area median income, which is roughly $100,000 for a family of four. 

“Our community won’t truly be safe until we have safe affordable housing for all who live and work here,” said Sale.

If you need rent relief, contact a representative in your locality:

  • Williamsburg: 757-220-6161
  • James City County: 757-259-5340
  • York County: 757-890-3885

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