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How a new CDC measure could help those at risk of losing their home

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Posted at 6:29 PM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 18:29:24-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Buying time to keep a roof over their heads. There is renewed hope for hundreds of thousands of Virginians now seeking protection from a recent CDC measure that temporarily halts evictions through December 31, 2020.

Attorney Palmer Heenan with the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society shared details with CBS 6.

"It requires the tenant to sign a declaration under penalty of perjury that certain criteria apply to them,” Heenan said.

He went on to explain that tenants must be able swear to these five things:

First, they must swear that they’ve used their best efforts to obtain all available governmental assistance. For example, Housing Opportunities Made Equal’s Eviction Diversion program. Also, the Virginia Rent/Mortage Relief program millions being distributed by ActsRVA to VA families.

Secondly, tenants must swear hat they meet income requirements, like not reporting taxable income to the IRS, earning less than $99,000 in the year 2020, or receiving a stimulus check.

The third thing they must be able to swear to is that they have been unable to pay rent.

“Due to either to a loss of income or due to an extraordinary out of pocket medical expense,” Heenan explained.

The fourth thing is that they’ve used their best efforts to make timely rental payments. Lastly, the tenant must swear that if he/she is evicted, they would be homeless or forced to share housing.

“So, you’d have to move in with family. The idea is, and I’m not speaking for the CDC, but having more people from outside the house come in, increases the chances that people are going to get coronavirus,” Heenan said.

If the criteria apply to you, Heenan advises tenants to fill out a declaration form, provide it to their landlords and keep a copy for themselves. He says that prevents a landlord from taking any action to evict families for non-payment.

“That would include filing a lawsuit or seeking a writ of eviction, any stage in the eviction process. There are steep criminal penalties for landlords who violate this law,” Heenan added.

Tenants who need a copy of the declaration form in order to obtain protection under this CDC measure, can find more information here.

There is also an online tool that will allow tenants to answer specific questions and will then generate the declaration form needed to give landlords.

Families can apply to the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief program by calling ActsRVA and leaving a message at 804-644-2401. They can also contact the Eviction Legal Helpline at 1-833-NoEvict.

Virginia Together: The Rebound Richmond campaign is here to help. Find information on who is hiring, investigations into unemployment payment issues, financial advice on making ends meet, and mental health advice on managing the pressures. These stories will be featured often on CBS 6 News and can be found by clicking this link.

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