Gov. Ralph Northam said he is calling on circuit court judges to extend the state’s eviction moratorium, which is scheduled to end on June 28.
Virginia’s Supreme Court originally implemented the moratorium on evictions in March, as businesses closed down and residents lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. The temporary moratorium, which was extended in early June, stopped all eviction proceedings while the Northam administration put together a comprehensive rent relief program for residents facing housing insecurity during the current crisis.
“We recognize that we have an eviction crisis in Virginia and a number of our localities have some of the highest rates of eviction in our country,” Northam said. He noted that over the last two years, his administration has worked with the General Assembly to reduce the rate of eviction.
“However the pandemic has demonstrated that many families, especially minority families, are one financial challenge away from an eviction.”
When the statewide moratorium lifts, Northam said he expects thousands of Virginians will be facing eviction.
“That’s not acceptable,” he said. “So today I’m calling on our chief circuit court judges around the state to further extend the moratorium as appropriate in their locality.”
At the state level, the governor’s office has directed the state Department of Housing and Community Development to create the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program that will use $50 million in federal CARES Act funds.
“The program will help cover rent and mortgage payments on behalf of households who are experiencing financial instability due to the pandemic, and because we know the pandemic is having a disproportionate health and financial impact on people of color this program will have an equity lens and will target outreach to those communities,” Northam said.
He also urged landlords and financial lenders to partner with the state to help families get up to date on their rental and mortgage payments.
“Our priority is to prevent evictions and help get Virginians back on track with the rent and mortgage payments. More information, including how to apply, will be available when the program launches on Monday, June 29,” Northam said.
Northam explained that there are other state programs to give families energy assistance and new programs to help families that don’t typically qualify for energy assistance that will roll out next month.
Virginia is still scheduled to enter Phase Three of reopening on July 1, but Northam encouraged Virginians to continue being careful and following health guidelines.
“I want to remind Virginians of how far we have come,” he said. “America saw little to no leadership from Washington and states and governors like myself came to the realization that we would be on our own. Next Wednesday in Phase Three, it is vital that everyone continue to be cautious. This virus has not changed, it has not gone anywhere. We can see that in the numbers from other states. The only thing we can do is protect ourselves and behave responsibly.”