RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Ralph Northam announced $524 million in new federal stimulus funds toward its Virginia Rent Relief Program.
The program helps families affected by the pandemic stay in their homes, and it also assists landlords with rent payments to avoid eviction.
Both tenants and landlords can get more details on the application process and find out if they’re eligible at this website.
The program is funded through the Emergency Rental Assistance program that is included in the recent federal stimulus package.
Virginia created a rent and mortgage relief program using funds from the CARES Act in 2020.
So far, the state has doled out more than $83 million in 24,294 rent and mortgage payments for households throughout the commonwealth.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have prioritized efforts to keep Virginians safely in their homes,” Gov. Northam said in a news release.
"There continues to be an overwhelming need for additional relief to help those struggling to make ends meet. This new federal funding will provide an important lifeline to individuals and families, and bolster our ongoing work to address housing affordability in the Commonwealth. I urge eligible households to act quickly and work with their landlords to seek rental assistance through this program."
The state will put $160 million of the new federal funding into the rent relief program "immediately" and will make more funding available based upon need.
Thomas Assefa, organizing director for advocacy group New Virginia Majority, said the additional funding is critical and welcome news for tenants in need.
“We think it’s a win-win for landlords who apply on behalf of tenants and for tenants to continue to stay in their homes because they’re no longer accruing debt," Assefa said.
However, Assefa said he has concerns about access to the program and the cooperation of landlords in submitting applications.
“For tenants who don’t speak English, don’t have internet access, or are still struggling to navigate the technology of online applications - it’s going to be challenging," he said. "Plus, there are more than 8,000 eviction hearings scheduled to happen [in Virginia] over the next 8 weeks."
The new ERA funding will not include mortgage relief. The rent relief program (RRP) will not accept applications for assistance with mortgage payments.
Tenants interested in applying should check their eligibility by completing the self-assessment at dhcd.virginia.gov/eligibility or by dialing 211.
Tenants may be eligible for rent debt payments back to April 1, 2020 and up to three months of payments into the future.
The total payments may not exceed 15 months of rental assistance per household.