Nelson County is getting a slice of a newly announced mortgage and rent relief program that could make available as much as $2.2 million to homes in the region.
Effective Wednesday, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) launched an emergency mortgage and rental assistance program expected to keep more than 1,000 families in their homes in the district’s Region Ten, according to a news release.
The COVID-19 Emergency Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) — through a partnership with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development — will reach homes in Nelson, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene and Louisa counties as well as the city of Charlottesville.
“This program will help our regional community to bridge the gap from now until the economy improves with the slowing of the COVID-19 virus,” TJPDC Executive Director Chip Boyles said in the release.
The program comes on the heels of an end to a statewide order late last month by the Virginia Supreme Court which suspended evictions in the commonwealth. Eviction proceedings have been allowed to continue in the 24th Judicial District, which includes Lynchburg as well as Amherst, Bedford, Campbell and Nelson counties.
The program will utilize Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding in excess of $450,000 and up to $2.2 million as demands are met, and will make rent or mortgage payments to eligible individuals or families who have experienced a loss of income because of COVID-19, the release states.
“Circumstances beyond anyone’s control have forced immeasurable harm on renters, homeowners, landlords, and lending institutions. Without outside assistance ... these circumstances can only worsen, increasing the demands on all levels of government, but especially local government,” Boyles said.
According to Margaret Clair, who became the executive director of the Nelson County Community Development Foundation as of July 1, money will be funneled to individuals and households in different localities based on population through local agencies. In Nelson County, that community partner is the Community Development Foundation.
“We’re just really happy to be able to work with [the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission] to help the Nelson Community. We know things can be tight,” Clair said. “We just want to make sure that wherever we can be of help to the community that we’re there.”
On the TJPDC website, Nelson County is listed as having the lowest population of all localities in the district. Of the initial money made available, Clair estimated the county would receive about $20,000.
In order to be eligible for assistance, renters or homeowners must have a valid lease, mortgage statement or other documentation that proves a landlord/tenant relationship; have lost income because of the pandemic; have a rent or mortgage amount less than or equal to 150% of fair market rent; and must meet some income requirements.
In order for renters to participate, landlords and tenants must negotiate one of two options, with each option having different conditions required of the landlord. In either option, all participating landlords must agree to not pursue eviction for non-payment during specified time periods.
“It’s not just handing the landlord money, the landlord has to give them relief as well so they need to be cooperative,” Clair said.
Option one states landlords must accept RMRP financial assistance for rent payment for at least one month and up to a total of four months, incurred on or after April 1. The landlord must also agree to forgive other past due bills at least equal to the amount of payments to be made with RMRP funds, according to the TJPDC website.
In option two, renters can receive assistance for up to two months of missed payments with landlords implementing repayment plans for any remaining unpaid bills payable over a period of at least six months.
Other local partnerships include the United Way of Greater Charlottesville for the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County and the Monticello Area Community Action Agency (MACAA) for Fluvanna, Greene and Louisa counties.
Applicants must complete applications through the jurisdiction in which they live. Individuals do not have to be diagnosed with COVID-19 to apply.
Renters will not be eligible if they live in public housing or if they are receiving other government rental assistance.
The financial assistance will be a one-time payment with opportunity for renewals as available funding allows and will be based off of households’ needs and further eligibility, the release states.
For more information and a complete list of requirements, visit the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission’s website at www.tjpdc.org or call the Nelson County Community Development Foundation at (434) 263-8074.
Reach Cropper at (434) 385-5522.
Nick Cropper covers Nelson County. Reach him at (434) 385-5522.
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