NORFOLK, Va. - Antoine Juniper, a Norfolk father of seven, is one of thousands of Virginians evicted from his home despite eviction bans.
“Immediately the pandemic hit in March, and it shut everything down and wiped out a major part of my income. I conveyed that to my landlord and found out what kind of landlord I was dealing with. He didn’t want to work with me,” said Juniper.
Juniper says his landlord was unwilling to work with him despite receiving money from the Rent Relief Program.
“It seemed like as soon as we had moved there, that’s when the pandemic hit and shut everything down. The barbershop shut down. My landscaping business dried up.”
Juniper says he received around $8,000 from the program in order to pay his rent.
But with no steady income, his landlord evicted him. Now, he and his family are staying in a hotel.
“I’m here paying almost $1,200 a week. I had to get two rooms because I have a big family. It’s just a lot," he said.
Juniper started a job for the City of Norfolk this week but says he and his fiancée are shelling out what should be a month’s rent every week just to keep a roof over their family's heads.
“It’s a problem getting a place, but it's not a problem paying rent. I just started with the City of Norfolk. I’m rebuilding my lawn care,” Juniper tells News 3 reporter Leondra Head.
During the General Assembly’s special session, lawmakers approved a budget to extend state-level protections for those struggling to pay rent, mortgage and utility bills due to the pandemic.
“[There's] about $655 million left in rent relief, so that’s what’s left for landlords and tenants to apply for,” Del. Marcia Price, who represents Virginia’s 95th District, said.
There’s even funding available to help homeowners pay for their mortgage.
“There’s also an additional $258 million in mortgage relief. We’re really trying to help people stay housed, especially during the pandemic. These funds are available for people to apply for now,” Del. Price said.
Patrick McCloud, the CEO of Virginia Apartment Management Association, advises renters to speak with their property manager or landlord to apply for the Rent Relief Program together.
“Lots of people think for some reason that property managers want to evict people. Eviction is the absolute last resort. It’s actually an expensive process, and with time being the commodity in rental housing, we are far better served to work with the resident to maintain housing stability because it’s in the financial best interest of everyone involved,” McCloud said.
If you have been impacted by the pandemic and need help paying your rent, call 703-962-1884.