‘It’s free cash’: Hire aid continues to be out there for Virginians

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – There is still millions of dollars in aid to Virginians in need of rent relief, but there are also concerns that some people may not seek help.

Housing providers say there seems to be a misunderstanding that the national eviction moratorium means you don’t have to pay rent. The moratorium just means that landlords can’t kick you out now. It does not erase the rent due or in arrears. In order to receive a rent reduction, tenants and landlords must apply for it.

“Residents really have to get involved, it’s free money when you need it,” said Renee Pulliam, director of operations for residential property services at Cushman, Wakefield and Thalhimer.

People who are unemployed, have cut their working hours, or are facing expensive COVID-19 medical bills could be eligible for help from Virginia’s rent reduction program. Pulliam has seen the program help tenants in their complexes like this one at Deering Manor in Richmond.

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“We have had approximately 1,400 of our residents whom we helped with this program,” she said.

Virginia’s rent relief program has paid more than $ 311 million and provided rental and mortgage assistance to over 48,000 households. 53 percent of the funds went to black and brown families, and more than 60 percent of the approved households included children under the age of 8.

In February, Governor Ralph Northam announced new federal funding of $ 524 million.

“They are available to everyone in Virginia regardless of citizenship status,” said Erik Johnston, Director of Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development. He asks the residents to apply for help.

“These funds are available with no repayment obligation,” said Johnston.

Tenants and landlords can check if they are eligible and how to apply online here. There are also an online tool to guide people the process and help you get up to 15 months of additional rent. With a valid rental agreement, it can also provide a three-month future rent.

Chesterfield County has its own program. The website can direct Chesterfield residents to this program. It is an unparalleled aid not only to tenants but also to landlords and property managers who have bills to pay.

“We still have people to pay and we still have maintenance that we need to continue,” said Pulliam.

It has been reported that some states are struggling to get the dollars into the hands of those in need. However, US Treasury Department data shows Virginia led the way in distributing the money. The Commonwealth ranks second in the country in providing emergency aid for rentals.

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“It’s not too good to be true; there are rental subsidies,” said Johnston.

Tenants and landlords must work together in filling out the rent reduction application.
In fact, The governor and general assembly just passed state law making landlords and tenants mandatory cooperate.