Virginia Together Relief Fund helps families avoid eviction

Posted at 10:46 AM, Jun 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 10:46:25-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- This week will likely bring more tense moments for Virginia families struggling to stay in their homes. Now that a statewide moratorium on residential evictions is over, thousands of families impacted financially by COVID-19 could face another hurdle.

In the City of Richmond alone, 1,900 households are pending eviction and those cases can now move forward.

That's a huge worry Felando Waller has grappled with since losing his job during the pandemic.

"It’s a headache. Sometimes you try and you think you have it figured out, and then you hit another wall," Waller explained.

His worries were alleviated when he received word from the RVA Homeless Intervention Program that his rent would be paid through CBS 6’s Virginia Together campaign.

That campaign partnered with nonprofit Mission From The Heart Foundation during a recent telethon, raising more than one hundred thousand dollars.

Those funds from community donors are now reaching families in need of food and housing assistance. Last week the first wave of donations went out to Feed More -- to help put food on families' tables.

Rents, for tenants like Waller, were paid directly to local landlords.

"Speechless. I don’t know where to start. It feels like a blessing and I can't thank Channel 6 enough and you and everyone else who was behind this," Waller added.

Property Manager Kieran Haynes of Ridgefield Place Apartments and Stephanie Washington from Tuscany Townhomes both recognize the need.

"They have to worry about feeding their kids after getting laid off. It's a stressful situation and unemployment takes time. So, it’s definitely a blessing," Washington said.

Both property managers are glad to learn even more resources are on the way.

Recently we reported on the $50 million Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said would be allocated to help struggling families through the VA Rent and Mortgage Relief Program.

Those are funds coming in from the federal CARES Act.

"It’s nice to know our government is stepping in, but again, I love the fact that our community was also able to step in and help before that. Because that was unknown and it’s a waiting game. So, I’m looking forward to that too and many more families being helped," Haynes said.

"The program will help cover rent and mortgage payments on behalf of households who are experiencing financial instability due to the pandemic" Gov. Northam announced recently.

He said the program will target outreach to communities of color as the COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate health and financial impact on those communities.

More information about that state rent relief program is expected to be released this week. As more details emerge on how to apply, we will update the community.

As for the money raised during this month's telethon, Mission From The Heart Foundation, the VA Together Fund and RVA Homeless Intervention Program are now accepting applications for rent/mortgage assistance.

Those seeking help should email their name and contact information to Jean Johnson at the following email:

Applicants must include documentation of being laid off such as a letter from an employer, unemployment paperwork, an official demand letter from the landlord and his/her contact information.

If a person provides the necessary documentation and qualifies for the rent/mortgage relief, the funds will be paid directly to the landlord.

Mission from the Heart is a non-profit organization started by CBS 6 reporter Shelby Brown.