RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The statewide freeze on eviction proceedings issued by Governor Ralph Northam ends on Monday leaving thousands of Virginians at risk of losing their homes.
On Thursday, the Governor announced a new rent relief program for Virginians will launch on June 29, but some fear it won’t be enough.
The new program, launched by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, will use $50 million in CARES Act funding to cover payments for applicants.
The governor is also calling on local judges to help.
In a letter to chief general district court judges across Virginia, the Governor asks courtrooms to delay hearing eviction cases until July 20, 2020 to allow tenants who need assistance to apply.
Some advocates fear many will fall through the cracks.
The Legal Aid Justice Center has said the only way to make sure all Virginians are protected is to extend the freeze rather than leave the decision to local judges.
Governor Northam says the statewide freeze was only temporary so the state had time to come up with a rent relief program.
According to DHCD, the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) is designed to support and ensure housing stability across the state during the pandemic. If any of the following statements apply to you, you may qualify for RMRP:
- You have been laid off.
- You place of employment has closed.
- You have experienced a reduction in hours of work.
- You must stay home to care for children due to closure of day care and/or school.
- You have lost child or spousal support.
- You have been unable to find employment due to COVID-19.
- You are unwilling or unable to participate in their previous employment due their high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Northam’s office released additional details regarding the program after it was launched Monday. The DHCD will administer the program with the help of nonprofit organizations and local governments, which will distribute funds on behalf of eligible households.
In order to be eligible, households “must demonstrate an inability to make rent or mortgage payments,” have a gross household income at or below 80 percent of the area median income and have a monthly rent or mortgage at or below 150 percent Fair Market Rent (FMR).
“Expanding access to safe, affordable housing has been and will continue to be a top priority of my administration, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” the governor said in a statement. “The Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program will help Virginians experiencing financial instability as a result of this unprecedented health crisis by preventing evictions and foreclosures and keeping Virginia families safely in their homes as we battle this virus.”
For more renter resources, click here.