Virginia Launches $50 Million Rent and Mortgage Relief Initiative
Yesterday, Va. Gov. Ralph Northam provided details on a historic $50 million state program to help renters and homeowners that have been impacted by COVID-19. The Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) initiative officially launched on June 29 and is funded through the state’s allocation under the CARES Act.
The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) designed the effort in concert with a wide range of housing providers and advocates. The funds will be administered by designated local agencies and housing providers across the state.
Erik Johnston, Director of DHCD, noted that “[we] deliver programs through our partners that are closest to the Commonwealth’s communities, and our team is deeply appreciative of the local and regional network that has rapidly developed this program to assist in meeting this critical housing and health need.”
To identify the local RMRP administering organization for a household and to conduct a self-assessment for eligibility, visit DHCD’s website or call 211 to reach Virginia 211 for information.
The assistance is restricted to households with incomes below 80% of area median. Funds will be provided in the form of a one time payment for rent and mortgage deficiencies back to April 1. There will be an opportunity for renewal based on availability of funding, the household’s need for additional assistance, and continued eligibility. Applicants will need to show how they have been affected directly by COVID-19, including illness, job loss or reduced hours, lack of childcare causing the applicant to stay home, and other direct factors. Monthly rent or mortgage payments must be less than 150% of the local area Fair Market Rent (FMR).
The goal of the initial roll out is to target those most in need and to prevent evictions. From June 29 to July 20, priority will be given to households with incomes below 50% of area median. Households with unlawful detainers dated prior to June 8 will also be prioritized. The program will also give precedence to households residing in properties that are currently not covered by a federal eviction moratorium. In his announcement last week, the Governor asked Chief Circuit Court Judges to extend the statewide moratorium on evictions that expired on June 28.
The RMRP outreach will also incorporate a racial lens to ensure that underserved communities and persons of color facing barriers to applying will be identified and included. Research has demonstrated that communities of color have been disproportionately affected by evictions as well as by COVID-19.
For more information on COVID-19’s impact on housing in Virginia, visit our COVID-19 Resources toolkit.