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Virginia Launches New Housing Protection Program

Row of apartments
The rent and mortgage relief is funded through $50 million in federal aid from the CARES Act. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Governor Ralph Northam launched a statewide rent and mortgage relief program on Monday. The initiative aims to help Virginians at risk of losing their homes as a result of financial hardships from the pandemic. 

“Expanding access to safe, affordable housing has been and will continue to be a top priority of my administration, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” Northam said. “The Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program will help Virginians experiencing financial instability as a result of this unprecedented health crisis by preventing evictions and foreclosures and keeping Virginia families safely in their homes as we battle this virus.”

The $50 million program is federally funded through the CARES Act, and will offer short-term financial assistance in the forms of rent and mortgage payments. Recipients will also be connected with resources like housing counseling.

The Department of Housing and Community Development will distribute the $50 million in federal CARES Act funds to partners across the state, including localities and nonprofits — who will then make the necessary payments on behalf of eligible families or individuals.

To qualify, applicants must be able to prove that their non-payment has been a result of the pandemic. Monthly rent or mortgage payments can’t exceed 150% of the area’s fair market rent —   in Richmond, that’s nearly $1,592 for a two bedroom.

Through July 20, the program will prioritize individuals or families who make 50% or less of the area’s median income. After that, the cap will increase to include households that make 80% or less of the area’s AMI.

Graph showing Richmond household size and income
Richmond AMI/household size as of April, 2020. (Graph: Virginia Housing and Development Authority)

 

Top consideration will go to households who’ve had evictions or foreclosures filed against them before June 8, and those who aren’t already participating in other federal or state housing protection programs.

Research from the RVA Eviction Lab shows a correlation between the city’s highest eviction rates and communities of color. In an effort to ensure the relief is available to those who need it the most, the program will conduct targeted outreach to communities of color across the state.

For more information about partnering organizations, to check eligibility and learn more about the program visit DHCD's website. The state has also compiled some resources for tenants and homeowners to learn about their rights, options and to apply for housing relief programs.