- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that Virginia has received $524 million in federal assistance for renters, saying that families across the state are still struggling to keep a roof over their heads due to the unprecedented economic impact of the pandemic.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have prioritized efforts to keep Virginians safely in their homes,” Mr. Northam said. “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,” the Democratic governor said.

The state will immediately put $160 million of that money into the Virginia Rent Relief Program, which is funded by the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. The rest of the money will be released on an as-needed basis, and the entire program will be administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development, according to Mr. Northam’s office.

Virginia renters will be able to apply the new relief funds toward past-due rent stretching back to April and up until May this year. Total assistance cannot exceed 15 months per household.

The Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program was established in June and has provided $83.7 million for 24,294 rent and mortgage payments, with the majority of recipients being families with children, state officials said.

Mr. Northam stressed that Virginia is committed to providing assistance while taking into consideration a “racial equity lens.”

“We know the COVID-19 pandemic disproportion and financial impact on people of color,” he said.

Virginia law requires that landlords work with tenants in order to apply for assistance. Renters who are interested can check their eligibility for the program at dhcd.virginia.gov/eligibility.

The new federal funding does not apply to mortgages, so homeowners are not eligible to apply.

On a national level, the Biden administration extended a moratorium on foreclosures for those with federally backed mortgages through June 30, three later months than the previous March deadline.
More than 10 million homeowners are behind on their mortgage payments because of the pandemic, according to White House estimates.
The Biden administration also extended the application window for payment forbearance until June 30 and will provide an additional six month forbearance period for those who got relief on or before June 30 of last year.
⦁ David Sherfinski contributed to this report.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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