RICHMOND, Va. -- Some area property managers who formed a homeless intervention program are working to help keep families in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jean Johnson said the RVA Homeless Intervention Program group grew out of the swarm of calls they got from tenants when they began facing layoffs and struggled to pay rent.
Johnson teamed up with other property managers, who created a COVID-19 rent relief fund via GoFundMe, hoping to raise $50,000 and assist 50 families.
The group set up an email account to hear from families whose housing is in jeopardy. The account is email@example.com.
With more families in need than donations coming in, Johnson said they are trying to get creative about raising more funds.
This Saturday, they hope to leverage support from social media when they host a rent party fundraiser on Facebook LIVE at 7 p.m. with local DJ Unkle Fortune keeping the music going.
Johnson said the goal is to have followers tune into the Facebook live event and make donations, so the Homeless Intervention Program can help those parents and children stay in their homes during these uncertain economic times.
“We know unemployment — some of those benefits haven’t been received yet. Stimulus checks for some haven’t been received. Meanwhile, the clock is still ticking and days are going by," Johnson said. "We want to get ahead of the need and start collecting donations now to help everyday families who are living paycheck to paycheck to be able to make their next month rent payment.”
Johnson said the GoFundMe has raised a little more than $4,500 of the $50,000 goal to help 50 area families pay rent. You can also call 804-926-3249 to donate.
Click here for the RVA Homeless Intervention Program’s Facebook page to join the live event.
Property managers create relief fund for struggling families
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
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