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Governor Announces Additional Funding for Rent Relief Program

Man speaking
Gov. Ralph Northam speaking at a 2020 event, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

During a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced new spending to help Virginians avoid eviction. Acknowledging the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on communities of color, he said $524 million in federal funds will go towards families in need of financial support.

“We know the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate health and financial impact on persons of color,” Northam said. “The [Rent Relief Program] will work to ensure this funding assists households most in need, by targeting outreach to communities of color, and providing assistance for communities in which English is a second language.”

Virginia’s Rent Relief Program  assists households and landlords with rent payments to help tenants and homeowners avoid eviction. In 2018, the New York Times reported Richmond had one of the highest eviction rates in the country. Although evictions fell in 2019, the rate remains high, and the impact of COVID-19 has destabilized housing for many.

“However the pandemic, as I said earlier, has shown us in very historic terms how too many families--especially in communities of color---are just one financial set back away from losing their homes,” Northam said.

In June 2020, Virginia was one of the first states to start a statewide housing assistance program in response to the pandemic. Since then, the state has distributed over $83.7 million in rent and mortgage payments.

Northam said he’s grateful the federal government continues to support the program but the new funds don’t include mortgage relief.

“The pandemic has not been easy on anyone, but it's been devastating for a lot of people who are really struggling to keep a roof over their head,” he said.

The governor is working with the General Assembly to increase funding towards the Virginia Housing Trust, a statewide approach to help people with home ownership, to provide additional support.

Virginians in need of housing assistance can visit StayHomeVirginia.com to see which resources are available. To figure out if you’re eligible for rental relief, visit dhcd.virginia.gov/eligibility or call 2-1-1.