Nonprofit pays Portsmouth woman's rent, aims to help others

Posted at 4:06 PM, May 22, 2020

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Monica Warren of Portsmouth isn't afraid to work hard.

As a single mother of four, she is used to making the best out of any situation. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, she found herself in a tough spot.

"I normally work eight hours a day but because, you know, of the pandemic, they were cut to three hours," she said.

Warren works as a personal care aid, but the company is limiting her time with clients to stop the spread of germs. She said she has filed for unemployment, but hasn't seen a dime yet.

"I don't know what's going on with that. I still haven't heard anything," she said. "I still can't get through to anybody and I can't just sit back and wait on that money. I still gotta work and I don't have a problem with doing that, but I'm only working three hours."

She said she has been relying on her SNAP benefits to put food on the table and had to use payment extensions for things like cable.

With June's rent looming and utility bills still coming in, Warren went online for help. After some searching, she stumbled across the Hampton Roads Community Action Program.

It's a Newport News-based nonprofit created to maximize people's opportunities and transform lives.

"We've been able to help families with rent, past due rental bills, past due utilities and also some hotel assistance," said Terri Francis, Director of Family Services and Housing with HRCAP.

The nonprofit recently received a $10,000 grant from the United Way of South Hampton Roads and the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.

The money is set aside to help families put food on the table or keep a roof overhead. For the United Way grant, each person or family can receive up to $750, but Francis said the organization has other funds they are able to use as well.

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She said for example, "Let's say we have someone with a rental balance of $1,000 and with United Way we can pay the $750, but we can pay the additional balance with the other funds we have as well."

If you think you can benefit from these services, click here to be taken to their website. When you get there, click on the link to see the COVID-19 updates. At the top of the page you'll see a tab that says "apply for services." Click on that and just fill out the application.

"As long as the need is still there, we'll be able to have the service," Francis said. "Please don't feel discouraged. Even if it's not financial assistance you need and you just have a question - 'Can my landlord do this? What are my options as far as evictions and housing?' - please give us a call and let us know how we can help."

After she filled out her application, Warren said she received a call back that same day. She could not express her gratitude enough for HRCAP.

"Don't give up; do not lose hope because there is faith and there are organizations out there that will help you," she said.

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