Governor Northam announces $524 million in new funding for rent relief program

By Zach Armstrong

PETERSBURG, Va -- Gov. Ralph Northam announced $524 million in new federal funding to help keep Virginia families in their homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Northam made the announcement at Gilliam Place Apartments, which is owned by the nonprofit organization Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.

The Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP) is funded through the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program included in the recent federal stimulus package and will assist households and landlords with rent payments to avoid eviction. The program will be administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have prioritized efforts to keep Virginians safely in their homes,” said Governor Northam. “There continues to be an overwhelming need for additional relief to help those struggling to make ends meet. This new federal funding will provide an important lifeline to individuals and families, and bolster our ongoing work to address housing affordability in the Commonwealth. I urge eligible households to act quickly and work with their landlords to seek rental assistance through this program.”

Virginia will put $160 million into the RRP to increase housing stability and will make additional funding available based upon need.

The ERA funding doesn’t include mortgage relief, so the RMRP that has been operating since June will become the RRP and will no longer accept applications for assistance with mortgage payments.

The Biden Administration recently announced an expansion and extension of federal forbearance and foreclosure relief programs. Those provisions included extending the foreclosure moratorium for homeowners through June 30, extending the mortgage payment forbearance enrollment window until June 30 and providing up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance in three-month increments for borrowers who entered forbearance on or before June 30.

Chesterfield and Fairfax County will operate their own ERA-funded rent relief programs. A release from the Governor encouraged Virginia tenants outside those counties struggling to pay rent to reach out to their landlords for the easiest path towards rental assistance. To submit a landlord-initiated application, visit virginiahousing.com/rentrelief. Virginia law requires landlords to work with their tenant to apply for this assistance.

Tenants interested in applying should check their eligibility by completing the self-assessment at dhcd.virginia.gov/eligibility or by dialing 2-1-1 from their phones. Tenants may be eligible for rent arrears payments back to April 1, 2020 and up to three months of payments into the future. The total payments may not exceed 15 months of rental assistance per household.