Virginia program pays overdue rent, mortgage bills for people affected by pandemic

Posted at 5:29 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 17:40:15-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — Many Americans are struggling with housing insecurity brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The good news is, there’s help for Virginians who need it.

The Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) has already dispersed $2.6 million to over 1,600 households facing housing instability due to the pandemic.

“Our goal with this program is not just to assist at this time, it’s to keep folks in a stable house for a long period of time,” said Amanda Love with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (VDHCD).

People can receive financial assistance to pay off current and past due payments up until April 1, 2020. Options also incentivize landlords to forgive overdue payment and implement repayment plans.

“Anybody who is facing eviction, who is having trouble with their rent or with your mortgage payment due to the coronavirus, please check into this program and see if you may be eligible,” said Love.

People can check to see if they are eligible by visiting the RMRP website to enter information about income, household size and the city in which they live.

The program is for those who are at 80% below area median income and those with rent or mortgage at or below 150% of fair market rent who have been unable to make payments because of the pandemic.

“Especially at a time when we’re being told to stay home so much, it’s such a hard thing to understand if you don’t have a home or you’re scared of losing your home in the middle of a pandemic,” said Love.

It varies by city, but in Norfolk, the household income maximum for one person is $46,200 and $71,300 for a family of five.

VDHCD says it takes around 1-2 weeks for landlords to receive payments. They say the money is not meant to be a one-time fix, and they work to find long-term solutions to create housing stability.

People can re-apply if they find themselves in trouble again.

“Sixty-two percent of these households include children under the age of 8, so we are really focused on providing this assistant to all Virginians and families to keep them stably housed,” said Love.

Governor Ralph Northam has ordered a pause on evictions until September 7, but is proposing halting evictions until at least April 2021.

The program is funded through the CARES Act for 50 million dollars through December 30, but VDHCD expects to exhaust funds before then.