RICHMOND, Va. -- As COVID-19 continues to grip our community, families are feeling the squeeze when it comes to paying rent.
Local property manager Jean Johnson knows the angst many families are feeling. She started taking distress calls weeks ago when layoffs began and tenants started losing income.
“Because having a roof over your head is a basic necessity and the loss of that can create so many responses, stress and anxiety," Johnson said. "Yes, people are very frantic. People are afraid they may become homeless.”
That prompted her to join other area property managers and create a rental assistance relief fund for struggling families.
Johnson says when the courts open back up in the coming months they expect private owners to file for unpaid rent from tenants, sending out demand letters. That’s why they’re scrambling to help families before those filings hit the courts.
“Because in Virginia, once you have an unlawful detainer filed on you -- whether it’s paid after the filing or dismissed, it is still going to affect your rental history," Johnson explained. "It will affect your ability to move on in the future to find another place to live. We want to fill this need and stop those actions from being taken, so these families can maintain their homes.”
Johnson and a team of property managers hope the RVA COVID-19 Rent Assistance Fundraiser they created through GoFundMe will initially help them assist fifty area families.
They want tenants laid off due to COVID-19 to send an email, providing a copy of the demand letter from the landlord, a verification of layoff from their employer if they have one, and the family‘s contact information.
“For those people who receive a demand letter, we want to be able to provide that management company the payment of the resident’s rent," Johnson said."So the money is going to go directly to the management company."
Johnson is hopeful the RVA community will step up to help, so no family has to worry about ending up on the streets.
“If you are in a place to help, $5 or $10 can make a difference as we come together collectively," Johnson said. "We can help our community members, our neighbors and it is going to make a big difference."
Johnson says they plan to keep the rent relief fund going as long as donors are willing to help, and as long as there is a need.
If you have been laid off due to COVID-19 and need rent assistance, email Johnson at email@example.com.
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