'It's a lot of people that are struggling': Families in Hampton Roads continue to battle with soaring rent prices, turn to rental relief assistance

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Posted at 5:48 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 17:30:22-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — We're witnessing inflation drive up the cost for almost everything, especially rent. With March 1 approaching, many families said they're worried on how they will pay.

However, there is financial relief for people living in Hampton Roads who can't afford ballooning rental prices.

News 3 caught up with two Hampton Roads residents who say they both applied for rental relief assistance, but with soaring rent prices and other bills they have to pay, they need any form of help they can get.

Wesley Everson, a Newport News resident, said, "It's a lot of people that are struggling. So, hopefully everybody can get on the same sheet of paper and everybody can breathe tremendously."

Everson has been living at his apartment complex for 11 years. Now, he says he's in survival mode, prompting him to rely on rental assistance for the very first time.

"I can breathe. Definitely, I can breathe," said Everson.

But for others like Najah Riddick, who lives in Hampton, she said her many attempts of getting approved for rental assistance have been unsuccessful.

"I applied January 11 for rental assistance, and here we are. It's February 28, and I still haven't gotten any word or whether or not it's been approved or anything," said Riddick.

Riddick said as her rent continues to increase, her paycheck is not, leading her to work extra jobs to try and make ends meet.

"At the same time you're still juggling because you're thinking okay if I do this, then I can't do this that and the third. Then how am I going to survive for another two weeks paying you full rent" said Riddick.

Riddick applied for the Virginia Rent Relief Program, a statewide program designed to support and ensure housing stability across the Commonwealth during the coronavirus pandemic.

Another option for peninsula residents is the continuum of care, which helps with rental assistance relief and eviction assistance. they offer a coordinated entry system, a network of service providers that help individuals, families with children, couples, & households with finding employment or other services to secure and sustain housing.

The Newport News Department of Human Services is a provider in the Continuum of Care. In addition to these regional resources, Newport News offers services to city residents.

Traci Snell, Senior Family Services Supervisor for the Newport News Department of Human Resources, said, "We have two different routes that we use to help people. One is prevention, which is the route we will like to go that pays rent and get people back on track so that they can continue on where they're already housed."

However, if that's not possible, there's a rapid rehousing program where city staff work to can reconnect families with affordable housing options.

"Our program reaches out to them, has a conversation with them about what their needs are. We have several different funding streams that we leverage together, and then there's an intake assessment that's done to determine what their situation is," said Snell.

For families who are experiencing financial difficulties or hardships, Snell said when you call for assistance, you will be connected with a case manager. You'll need to meet one of the following requirements:

  • Be a Newport News resident
  • Provide documentation
  • Meet established eligibility criteria for funding

No matter what city you live in, you can call the housing crisis hot line at 757-587-4202, and you will be connected to a staff member that can help you with your specific needs.

Related: 'It's not sustainable': Renters face tough decisions as rent prices rise in Hampton Roads