RICHMOND, Va. -- When the freeze on evictions in the Commonwealth ended last week, many Virginians were left struggling with what to do next.
Keisha Logan said trying to keep her head above water has been more than a struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"All the bills started piling up," said Logan, who has been caring for her elderly mother, a son home from college and a high schooler.
Though she works every day, Logan is still facing eviction as she was not able to pay her rent in full.
"I'm having to spend more money on utilities because more is being used now, because more people are home throughout the day," Logan explained. "I have to continually buy food because, you know, they're here throughout the day. And I'm trying to help my mom. And then my brother recently had spinal surgery, so I'm also helping him. He's still waiting on unemployment. He applied like two months ago, but still hasn't received it."
Logan said that she has been paying at least $700 or $800 toward her rent, which is nearly $900 a month.
"I'm behind because of the $100 or $200 that I'm not paying, so I'm paying the majority," she said.
But she still has an eviction court date in a few weeks.
Logan is now being assisted by the Eviction Diversion program through Housing Opportunity Made Equal (HOME).
Heather Crislip, HOME's president and CEO, said eviction numbers are alarming.
Crislip is especially troubled to learn that RVA Eviction Lab researchers found more than a thousand eviction cases in Henrico, Richmond and Chesterfield were still filed despite the properties being protected under the CARES ACT federal eviction moratorium.
She offered this advice to renters who believe they fall in that category: immediately speak to your landlord.
"Because that might be the fastest way to get it resolved," Crislip advised. "But if they don't respond to that, then yes you need to call legal aid or if you got an unlawful detainer, work through HOME and we will try to make the best case we can to get it stopped."
Crislip also pointed to the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program. That $50 million is being distributed by Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
Households may get assistance if they have lost income due to the pandemic, layoffs, closing of their jobs, a reduction in work hours, loss of child/spousal support. Or if a person is unable to find a job due to COVID-19 and if they're unwilling or unable to go back to their previous job due to a high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
The Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program, which is a one time payment, is for past due payments beginning April 1, 2020.
To apply, you must have a valid lease or mortgage statement in your name. Click here for more information.
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