Virginia rolls out resources for renters, homeowners struggling through COVID-19 pandemic

Virginia rolls out resources for renters, homeowners struggling through COVID-19 pandemic

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The commonwealth is rolling out new resources for people struggling to pay rent or mortgages during the coronavirus pandemic. This comes after Virginia’s ban on evictions ended May 17.

Governor Ralph Northam has acknowledged the impending pressure put on tenants as courts reopen for business.

“Unfortunately, this means some eviction proceedings may move forward,” Northam said during a press conference Monday, May 18.

Housing advocates in central Virginia are working to make sure no one loses the roof over their head because of this health crisis.

“We need better tools to prevent this tidal wave from resulting in a lot of people losing their housing,” Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA) Redevelopment Coordinator Dave Norris said.

CRHA has suspended evictions for its public housing residents. Meanwhile, a grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation is covering May and June rent.

“The kinds of measures we’ve put in place at the housing authority and the kinds of measures Virginia is putting into place, and hopefully will continue to put into place, are going to help people stay in their housing,” Norris said.

New laws allow renters who’ve lost wages due to COVID-19 to delay eviction proceedings for 60 days. The commonwealth also put a cap on late fees at 10% of the rent or 10% of the remaining balance due, whichever is less.

Virginia Housing is offering three month mortgage deferrals. Landlords must pass that on to tenants.

The commonwealth is also providing $12 million to support more than 200 nonprofit housing organizations, including Piedmont Housing Alliance (PHA).

“Many residents aren’t able to pay their rent either in a timely manner or at all, and we want to ensure residents aren’t evicted during that process. We have to absorb that cost,” PHA Executive Director Sunshine Mathon said.

Mathon says it will take coordination at all levels of government for the long haul to recover from this crisis.

“It is going to take the households who are most economically challenged a long, long time to recover. So, we’re going to have to have tremendous flexibility and adaptability to make sure folks aren’t displaced,” Mathon said.

Norris worries the pandemic will make a long-standing problem in Charlottesville worse: “It’s getting harder and harder for the people who do the hard work of making this community function to be able to afford to live here,” he said.

The commonwealth launched the new Stay Home Virginia website to provide resources for renters, landlords, homeowners, and people experiencing homelessness.

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