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Virginia’s rent relief program to continue throughout the year

Erik Johnston, the Director of Virginia's Rent Relief Program, discusses the future of the...
Erik Johnston, the Director of Virginia's Rent Relief Program, discusses the future of the program on Thursday, June 24.(WHSV)
Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 5:07 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA CO., Va. (WHSV) - When the pandemic hit and it got hard to pay rent, Virginia’s Rent Relief Program was there to help.

“It’s a statewide program using federal emergency relief funds to help provide rent relief up to 15 months,” said the program’s director, Eric Johnston.

The program, Johnston says, is unique.

“Virginia has had one of the only continuous running rent relief programs during the pandemic,” Johnston said.

He says the program has touched many lives.

“We have distributed more than 244.6 million for 49,000 rent and mortgage relief payments for households,” Johnston added.

Still, there’s plenty of relief to give. “Nearly a billion dollars has been awarded by the federal government,” Jonhston said. “So there is a great deal of assistance available.”

He says Virginians have worked together to make this program effective for both sides of renting.

“The landlord can apply on behalf of the tenant. Both landlord and tenant have to provide some details for the program,” Johnston said.

Some may have a negative view of rent assistance, but the department is working to help supply people with what they need.

“It makes both the renter and landlord whole. We’re able to pay both three months in the future and then 15 total months,” he said.

As for the future of the program, Johnston says rent relief isn’t going anywhere.

“It will continue as we have funds, and we have plenty of funds for the remainder of this year,” he said.

Not only will rent assistance be available, the program will be able to expand.

“Homeowners assistance programs will come in the coming months with new federal funding,” Johnston said.

Johnston says the programs are only effective when people work together, and that’s why it’s been so successful in the commonwealth.

“Both landlord groups and tenant advocacy groups.... both have worked together to encourage tenants and landlords to cooperate in these unprecedented times.”

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