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Richmond, Henrico Launch Rental Assistance Programs

View or Richmond Skyline
A view of Richmond from Henrico County. (Photo: Bill McChesney/CC BY)

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The City of Richmond launched a rent and mortgage assistance program on Monday, that will offer relief to immigrant households that have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program aims to support city residents who may not be eligible for federal assistance as a result of their non-citizen or mixed immigration status.

The $250,000 program is funded through Open Society Foundations, a New York-based nonprofit that focuses on “justice, democratic governance, and human rights.”

Bilingual staff with Richmond’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and the YMCA’s Help1RVA initiative will work alongside residents to see if they qualify for the program and help them apply for assistance. Eligible applicants must provide proof of income and a valid lease or mortgage statement.

Payments will be limited to $1,500 per household, or up to two months of rent — whichever is less. The program will prioritize applicants who have not already received assistance from other initiatives throughout the pandemic.

Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, the organization that oversees the city’s eviction diversion program, will be in charge of sending payments directly to landlords or property managers. 

“If there’s one lesson we should take away from this pandemic, it is that everyone, regardless of immigration status, deserves a place to feel safe and secure,” Mayor Levar Stoney said. “This targeted effort will support families often overlooked in the design and implementation of public support programs.”

The announcement follows calls from advocates to address the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the Latino population, which makes up about 50% of reported COVID-19 cases in Richmond and about 43% statewide.

Also on Monday, Henrico County launched its own rental assistance program in an effort to prevent homelessness. The initiative aims to help county residents, who have lost income as a result of the pandemic, stay in their homes.

The $360,000 program is funded through the federal CARES Act. It will offer impacted residents short-term rent payments.

To qualify, households must be able to prove that they couldn’t make rent because of the  pandemic. This includes:

  • Job loss, reduced hours or missed work if a doctor recommended quarantine;
  • Increased childcare expenses due to school closures;
  • Absence from work to provide child or adult care as a result of school closure, daycare facility closures or reduced capacity. 

Qualifying applicants’ annual incomes can’t exceed low and very-low income limits as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That’s determined by the household size and combined household incomes.

Graph
(HUD’s household income limits. Graph: Henrico County)

Eligible residents must have received written notification of lease termination within 21 days of applying for the program. This includes a court summons or eviction notice. Each household can receive up to $1,500 per month, to cover overdue rent, late fees or court costs — for up to four months of assistance.

The Henrico COVID-19 Rental Assistance program will be ongoing until funds run out. Applications in both English and Spanish are available through the county’s website, or for pick-up at Henrico's Department of Social Services offices at 8600 Dixon Powers Drive, and 3820 Nine Mile Road.

Residents can also get more information about the program, eligibility and how to apply by calling (804) 501-5294.