Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has expanded the state’s rental and mortgage relief program to allow landlords to apply for assistance on behalf of tenants. Thursday’s announcement marks the first time landlords can apply directly.
The $50 million program uses federal funds from the CARES Act to help households facing eviction or foreclosure due to the pandemic — Northam first announced the program in late June, just as the statewide moratorium on evictions was set to expire.
According to a press release, landlords can now apply for assistance for current and past-due rental payments dating back to April 1, on behalf of tenants who qualify for the program.
“We continue to look for innovative ways to reach as many households and property owners as possible throughout this pandemic and our economic recovery,” Northam said in a statement Thursday. “Expanding this program will provide much needed relief for landlords and property owners facing financial hardship and help ensure that more Virginia families can remain safely in their homes.”
Renters are eligible if they can show they’ve experienced a loss of income due to financial effects of the pandemic — this includes workers who’ve been laid off or had reduced hours, those whose place of employment has closed, and other strenuous financial situations. The household’s income also can’t exceed 80% of the area’s median income.
The Department of Housing and Community Development’s website has more information on eligibility requirements and required documents.
In August, the state’s Supreme Court granted Northam’s request to halt evictions through Sept. 7, and earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a sweeping federal eviction ban that’s effective through the end of the year. But the state and federal evictions protections don’t prevent rent and mortgage payments from piling up.
Plus, the evictions protections haven’t prevented landlords from intimidating tenants for rental payments during the pandemic.
About 230,000 evictions are expected to be filed across the Commonwealth by the end of the year, according to an estimate by the Virginia Poverty Law Center.
“The top goal of [the Rent and Mortgage Relief Program] is to keep families in safe and affordable housing by utilizing the funding resources to make tenants and homeowners, as well as landlords and mortgage companies, whole on outstanding payments,” said Brian Ball, Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade, in a press release. “A strong partnership between landlords and tenants is imperative to keeping Virginians who owe back rent stably housed through this pandemic and beyond.”