This article was written by WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.
Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday announced the expansion of the Rent and Mortgage Relief Program, which first launched at the end of June with $50 million in federal CARES Act funding to assist those facing eviction or foreclosure due to COVID-19.
Landlords can now apply to receive financial assistance for current and past-due rental payments dating back to April 1 on behalf of their tenants who qualify for RMRP. This new application is available in addition to the existing tenant-based application.
Current state and federal eviction protections through the courts do not prevent rent and mortgage payments from accumulating.
Northam said in a news release that the commonwealth is focused on helping eligible households and property owners access resources to maintain housing stability during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the future. Virginians are encouraged to act quickly and work with their landlord or lending institution to understand their rights and responsibilities and seek rent and mortgage relief assistance if needed.
The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) administers the RMRP program through approximately 30 local and regional housing-related agencies throughout the Commonwealth. Virginia Housing, the state’s housing finance agency, has partnered with DHCD to manage landlord-initiated applications.
Eligible households must demonstrate difficulty in making rent or mortgage payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Monthly rent must be at or below 150 percent of Fair Market Rent (FMR) and eligible households must have a gross household income at or below 80 percent of area median income (AMI).
“The top goal of RMRP 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 Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “A strong partnership between landlords and tenants is imperative to keeping Virginians who owe back rent stably housed through this pandemic and beyond.”
More than 60 percent of the households served between Aug. 27 and Sep. 9 included children under 8 years old, and 58 percent included children ages 9-17. Of those who identified race, Black households accounted for more than 45 percent of those served, and white households accounted for 30 percent.
The RMRP provides financial assistance in the form of a one-time payment with the opportunity for renewal based on availability of funding, the household’s need for additional assistance, and continued eligibility. This includes financial assistance for rent or mortgage payments past due from April 1, 2020 and onward.
A federal moratorium on evictions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently in place through Dec. 31, 2020 and suspends eviction proceedings for households facing eviction due to unpaid rent. The moratorium requires tenants to sign a declaration of eligibility and deliver the document to their landlord, but does not prevent rent payments from accumulating. Additional information is available at StayHomeVirginia.com/renters.
To submit a landlord-initiated application, visit virginiahousing.com/RMRP. Tenants interested in applying should visit dhcd.virginia.gov/eligibility to conduct a self-assessment for eligibility or call 211 VIRGINIA by dialing 2-1-1 from your phone. Tenants and homeowners are strongly encouraged to know their rights and responsibilities and pay their rent and mortgages on time if they are able and if they are not able, to reach out to their landlord or lending institution along with RMRP. Visit StayHomeVirginia.com for additional information and resources.