Resources to help you pay rent, avoid eviction despite pandemic

Virginia Tech housing research scientist fears millions of evictions could lead to second wave

ROANOKE, Va. – The federal moratorium that had protected an estimated 12 million renters from eviction for four months expired on Friday.

Mel Jones, associate director of Virginia Center of Housing Research at Virginia Tech, said millions of Americans are behind on their rent and mortgage payments — and as many as 28 million people could be evicted in a few short months.

With people losing jobs or the income they once relied on, they’re having to choose between paying rent and other necessities, like food and childcare.

Jones’ concern is if rent protection isn’t prioritized, it could lead to a bigger problem — like a second wave in coronavirus cases.

“To have that place where they can go and feel safe. Without that, we’re going to have folks doubling and tripling in homes of family members and friends and we’re going to have people going into shelter situations, which are even more dangerous when it comes to the pandemic,” said Jones.

Here’s what Jones suggests you do if you’re on the verge of missing rent or getting evicted: Talk to your landlord to see if they are offering anything for tenants who are having money troubles. Then, reach out to the county or city you live in to see what they’re offering locally, and they may be able to direct you to other community and federal resources.

“Many of the municipalities in the New River Valley and Roanoke are using some of their CARES Act funds for rent protection, but undoubtedly there are folks who don’t know about those funds,” Jones said.

Another option is community organizations like Total Action for Progress (TAP). Since June 29, the organization has offered financial assistance for rent or mortgage payments through the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program. For information on how it works and applications, click here. The program is available until December or when grant money runs out.

Jones encourages people to reach out to their representatives whether you’re not able to pay for rent, at risk for eviction or neither to make decisions in support of housing stability and financial security for everyone during this time.

If you need additional resources for assistance with bills, childcare, food, even heating and cooling call 2-1-1 Virginia or visit its website here.

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