COVID-19: Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance
As you are aware, housing has been a very critical issue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and HCD has been adapting our business practices to meet a variety of changing conditions. With the federal government, state and Fairfax County working on a variety of means to provide housing assistance to help prevent eviction, it is important to understand where things stand and how we can refer those who are asking for help. The following information provides an in-depth review on the current status of evictions and various rental assistance resources being made available at the local and state levels:
Federal Eviction Moratorium in Effect:
On September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a federal order to suspend certain residential evictions through December 31, 2020. The order cites the public health risks associated with COVID-19 and halts residential evictions for renters who meet the following criteria:
Expect to earn less than $99,000 in 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return); were not required to file taxes in 2019; or received a stimulus check provided by the CARES Act;
Have used their best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
Cannot pay the full amount of their rent because of substantial loss in income, loss of employment or work hours, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
Are still making partial rent payments or are using their “best effort” to make payments that are as close to the full rental amount as possible; and
If the renter were to be evicted, the renter would likely become homeless or have to “double up” with another household.
The order does not halt evictions for other reasons such as illegal activity. This measure only delays eviction proceedings through December 31. Residents are still responsible for rent balances and any accrued fees. The order also does not prohibit landlords from charging fees or penalties for non-payment of rent.
Rental Assistance and Eviction Prevention Resources Available
Department of Housing and Community Development: Residents participating in Fairfax County Housing programs should contact their housing specialist if they are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. A complete listing of adjustments to the operations of the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic can be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/housing.
Fairfax County Coordinated Services Planning (CSP): CSP remains the best resource for residents seeking assistance to help pay rent and utilities, securing housing, accessing food, obtaining prescriptions, and meeting other basic needs.
Call 703-222-0880 Monday thru Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. NOTE: CSP is experiencing a high volume of calls – especially on Mondays and Fridays. Callers should expect a wait of approximately 30 minutes, but help will be provided.
CSP staff can assist callers in Amharic, Dari, Creole (English and French), Farsi, Hindi, Italian, Kannada, Korean, Pashto, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Tigrinya, and Urdu). CSP services are also available in other languages through the use of an interpreter.
Prior to calling CSP, residents should gather the following documents, which may be required to determine eligibility for assistance:
Proof of income and/or loss of income such as proof of unemployment benefit, self-declaration of income, termination notice, pay stubs, earnings statement.
Proof of lease/rental agreement, informal rental agreements/sublease arrangements (with owner’s knowledge), mortgage statement.
Statement/bill (amount due to vendor and/or landlord).
Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP): The RMRP provides financial assistance to renters and mortgage holders who meet the following criteria:
Have experienced a loss of income due to the Coronavirus pandemic
Have a valid lease or mortgage statement in their name or other documentation confirming the landlord-tenant relationship
Have a rent or mortgage amount at or below 150% Fair Market Rent
Have a gross household income at or below 80% Area Median Income (AMI) based on current month’s income
Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) is administering the RMRP in Fairfax County. To apply, contact NVFS by phone at 804-404-8752 or via email to RMReliefProgram@nvfs.org.
Virginia Housing Resources: The Commonwealth of Virginia has a variety of housing information and resources available for renters, homeowners, landlords and more at www.StayHomeVirginia.com.
A NOTE ON LEGAL ADVICE
HCD Staff cannot provide legal counsel to County residents, FCRHA tenants or participants in our housing programs. We encourage those in need of legal assistance to utilize the following resources:
Legal Services of Northern Virginia: LSNV provides free legal assistance in a wide variety of legal practice areas – including child advocacy, public benefits and housing. Call 703-778-6800 or visit www.lsnv.org for assistance.
Virginia Legal Aid: Are you in need of legal assistance? www.VaLegalAid.org offers qualifying residents access to a network of legal professionals offering a variety of legal services in numerous practice area. If you have questions about eligibility, please call 1-866-534-5243.