About Virginia’s Rent Relief Program
Since it launched last June, Virginia’s Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) has directly helped hundreds of APAH residents access rent relief. RMRP is a state-run program that provides financial assistance to renters who have experienced a loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic thanks to funding from the federal CARES Act.
At its start, renters could apply for assistance themselves. It was a complicated and cumbersome process. Thankfully, in November 2020, the RMRP opened a landlord portal. This allowed residents to work with their landlord (APAH) to submit the application together, easing the time and paperwork burden on our residents.
The program also simplified the application process and reduced the number of required attachments, making it far more accessible and efficient than other rent relief options.
These changes have helped so families stay housed. Rental assistance from Arlington County, Arlington Thrive, and philanthropic funds totaled just $700,000 from April to October of last year. But through the RMRP, nearly 270 APAH households have received $1.2 million to cover their rent debt.
Most of the nearly 700 households who struggled to pay their rent during the pandemic have never needed any financial assistance before. Some residents feared that applying for rent assistance would but their immigration status at risk. And others come from cultures in which pride keeps them from proactively asking for help.
One family, a mother and three children, owed $10,000 in rent, but was afraid to apply for rental assistance because she thought it would impact their immigration process. She heard about RMRP through APAH staff and the leasing office, and with her questions answered, was reassured enough to apply. After submitting her RMRP application, the state-funded rental assistance paid her outstanding balance entirely.
Another household was initially discouraged by previous experiences of applying for rental assistance. They experienced long wait periods and found the previous process to be stressful. After they received encouragement from a Resident Services team member to apply for assistance through RMRP, the family applied and received rent assistance totaling the $4,000 they owed.
Beyond Rental Assistance
This program has been transformative for thousands of vulnerable Virginia renters that felt hopeless as their outstanding rent balances grew month after month – if they were lucky and their landlords were, like APAH, not evicting them. For residents hurt by this pandemic, receiving rent relief means they can finally shift their energy and resources to fulfilling and paying for other basic needs like food, medicine, and utility payments.
Yet many individuals continue to be out of work, with little to no income to afford these other basic needs. So, APAH and other partners continue to provide support to help our neighbors live with dignity and in health.
As the pandemic recovery moves forward, many APAH residents will still need much – if not all – of 2021 to rebuild their lives. Well-funded rent relief programs are an important part of this support along with philanthropy and other social programs like increased unemployment benefits and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
You can help APAH residents today. Consider making a tax-deductible gift to the Resident Emergency Fund. And you can let your elected Federal, State, and County officials know with letters, emails, or phone calls that you support safety-net programs to help your low-income neighbors.