Petersburg landlord calls for eviction relief as deadline approaches

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 6:22 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2021 at 6:32 PM EDT
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PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - Saturday, July 31 is the last day of the CDC’s eviction moratorium extension, meanings millions of people - including thousands of Virginians - could be without a home very soon. For months, tenants have been pleading for more time as they apply for relief.

“We’ve been working on this since May,” said landlord Mary Harwell.

For months, she said she’s sent over documents like a W-9 form, copies of a housing and lease agreement, sometimes repeatedly, to the Department of Housing and Community Development to apply for rent relief.

Still, she waits as time winds down on the CDC’s eviction ban.

“I’m concerned that these people are trying to get help, and they can’t get any help,” she said.

The moratorium was already extended by a month back in June, as housing advocates and lawmakers pushed for more time.

On Thursday, the Biden Administration announced that it would allow the moratorium to expire, calling on Congress to act.

Senate Democrats are reportedly working on legislation to extend, while the House already introduced a bill on Thursday, which looks to extend the moratorium until mid-October.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that of the $50 billion in rent relief allocated, only $3 billion had been used.

“Why should the renters be punished for the fact that the system did not put money in their pockets,” Pelosi said.

In the Commonwealth, over $300 million in relief has been paid out since July of last year; there is about $700 million left in the Virginia Rent Relief Program.

Housing advocates say the biggest issue seems to be getting the word out to those at risk that relief is available.

“No tenant in Virginia should be evicted for non-payment of rent until that last dollar has been spent,” said Marty Wegbreit with the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society.

Harwell says she doesn’t expect to kick out her tenant, but that things are already tough without relief.

“I’m going to work with her as long as I can, but still, I got bills to pay,” she added.

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