COVID-19 Resources and Updates

As a region and a nation, we are all striving to understand the short and long-term impact the COVID-19 outbreak will have on ourselves, our families, and our communities. This page is a resource for organizations and individuals seeking up-to-date information on the impact of federal response packages on the affordable housing sector, the state eviction moratorium, rent/mortgage and utilities relief, homeless services, relief for non-profit developers and human service organizations, and proposed budget changes in Northern Virginia jurisdictions.

Please note: We are updating this page regularly as the situation evolves; therefore, content is subject to change. 

New updates are highlighted in yellow.

Landing Pages for COVID-19 Resources & Updates

If you are looking for information on food access in your jurisdiction, please visit the pages below.


Federal Response Packages

The House passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act on May 15, 2020. The bill includes almost $200 billion in additional funding for housing and homelessness programs. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) published a detailed analysis of the housing and homelessness-related provisions of the bill. The Republican-led Senate is not expected to consider the bill. 

NLIHC published a detailed analysis of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Nixon Peabody also issued a summary of housing-related provisions of the CARES Act.

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s COVID-19 Resources page includes a policy section detailing the effects of federal aid on individuals, businesses, and state governments.

The National Association of Realtors outlined the impact of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on employers and employees. This page includes summaries of the expanded family medical leave, paid sick leave, and unemployment policies outlined in the bill, and describes provisions related to health insurance and refundable tax credits.

View our timeline of when federal aid programs and funding streams are set to expire below. (Hover over any point on the timeline for details about the program/funding source set to expire on that date.)

 


Eviction Prevention and Housing Stability Toolkit

Below is a collection of resources and best practices to prevent evictions and stabilize communities. This toolkit was created in collaboration with a regional coalition of advocates, attorneys, property owners, and representatives from local governments, convened by NVAHA and Legal Services of Northern Virginia. We hope this collection of resources sheds light on what is being done to stabilize communities, and where gaps in eviction prevention efforts remain. Due to the dynamic and evolving nature of housing stability during the COVID-19 pandemic, this page is subject to frequent updates.

FEDERAL ACTION

Northern Virginia communities will be hampered in their efforts to support vulnerable populations and keep residents in their homes without action and investment on the part of the federal government. Here are the steps Congress needs to take to prevent the coming wave of evictions: 

  • Reinstate unemployment insurance at the $600/week-level 
  • Reinstate eviction moratoria on properties with federally-backed mortgages 
  • Provide supplemental funding to states and localities for the express purpose of rent and mortgage assistance

STATE ACTION

Eviction prevention should be a top priority when the General Assembly meets for a special session beginning August 18. In response to a request from Gov. Northam, the Supreme Court of Virginia reinstated an eviction moratorium through Sept. 7, but there are other actions that policymakers can take to protect vulnerable residents, including: 

  • Increase funding for the state’s rental assistance program; fund targeted outreach to underserved populations, including Latinx residents; and reduce the burden of proof required to show COVID-19-related loss of income (many residents working in highly affected industries, including construction and food service are unable to obtain a letter from their former employer because the employer has gone out of business).
  • Adopt the right of counsel for tenants facing eviction.
  • Limit public access to COVID-19-related failure to pay rent cases, so COVID-19-impacted residents do not face barriers to accessing housing in the future.

WHAT LOCAL JURISDICTIONS CAN DO

  • Use CARES Act funding to establish a local rental assistance program, and fund targeted outreach to underserved communities. (View our chart of rental assistance programs in Northern Virginia here.)
  • Be flexible with requirements to show COVID-19-related loss of income (many residents working in highly affected industries, including construction and food service are unable to obtain a letter from their former employer because the employer has gone out of business).
  • Encourage the Sheriff’s Office to collaborate to prevent evictions, including:
    • Setting a policy not to evict individuals who were exposed to or have COVID-19 symptoms.
    • Working with county agencies, and human service and legal aid organizations to connect individuals facing eviction cases to rental assistance and other resources. For example, Fairfax County has established a cross-agency eviction prevention team, comprised of representatives from 
      • Legal Services of Northern Virginia
      • The Office to Prevent and End Homelessness
      • The Office of Strategy Management 
      • The Department of Health and Human Services
      • The Department of Neighborhood and Community Services 
      • The Sheriff’s Office
      • The County Attorney’s Office
  • Create a Housing Stability Pledge to encourage landlords and/or lenders to adopt best practices such as mortgage forbearance, late fee moratoriums, flexible repayment plans, and neutral credit reporting/not reporting late payments for tenants who agree to a repayment plan.
    • Fairfax County Board Chairman Jeff McKay is working with County staff to develop a voluntary Housing Stability Pledge for landlords. Details of this pledge will be announced in the coming weeks.
  • Support landlords. Many landlords of market-rate affordable units are small business owners who do not have federally-backed loans, and therefore are not eligible for federal mortgage forbearance. Such landlords, along with the many nonprofit affordable housing providers in our region, operate on thin margins and cannot afford to simply waive tenants’ rent. Jurisdictions should work with these landlords to provide relief from mortgage payments, property taxes and/or operating expenses, on the condition that landlords provide relief to vulnerable tenants.

WHAT LANDLORDS CAN DO

  • Waive late fees/penalties. Our partners tell us that, by allowing tenants to pay what they can at any point throughout the month, they have seen lower non-payment rates than anticipated. (Want to learn more about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on housing and homeless service providers? View the Phase I Results from our COVID-19 Impact Survey.) 
  • Work with tenants to devise a repayment plan. In Northern Virginia jurisdictions, landlords and tenants must agree to a repayment plan in order for tenants to receive rental assistance. Below are the best practices our partners have identified for developing a successful repayment plan:
    • Residents must inform the landlord of financial hardship that is COVID-19-related.
    • Flexible documentation requirements (many residents working in highly affected industries, including construction and food service are unable to obtain a letter from their former employer because the employer has gone out of business). A self-declaration of unemployment is the most flexible option. 
    • Landlord agrees not to evict for non-payment or charge late fees through December 2020 (landlord may still evict for other gross infractions of the lease terms). 
    • Landlord agrees not to increase rent through January 2021.
    • Encourage residents who can make partial rent payments to do so.
  • Collaborate with local government agencies and human service organizations to notify tenants about available rental assistance options. If you have the capacity, assist tenants with the paperwork and application process for these programs. 
  • If your jurisdiction offers a Housing Stability Pledge – sign it! Signing a pledge like the one under development in Fairfax County shows your commitment to collaborating in good faith to keep tenants in their homes.

WHAT TENANTS NEED TO KNOW

Download the chart to active the application links.

From Legal Services of Northern Virginia:

From the Virginia Poverty Law Center

Why your rent payment matters

Many landlords of market-rate affordable units are small business owners who do not have federally-backed loans, and therefore are not eligible for federal mortgage forbearance. Such landlords, along with the many nonprofit affordable housing providers in our region, operate on thin margins and cannot afford to simply waive months of rent. It is important that tenants who are able to make partial or full rent payments during the pandemic do so, as this enables landlords to maintain normal operations, avoid foreclosure and offer relief to those who are unable to pay at all. 


Digital Access

Like food and shelter, internet access has become a basic need that too many low-income households go without. In addition to accessing information about COVID-19, including how to prevent the spread of the virus and common symptoms, households need internet access to obtain telehealth services, learn about emergency assistance programs in their area, and so children can participate in online learning while schools are closed. Below is a list of resources to help low-income households obtain and maintain internet access during this crisis.

  • The Comcast Internet Essentials program provides affordable internet access, a low-cost computer, and computer literacy training to qualifying low-income households. Through the end of the year, eligible new customers will receive the Internet Essentials program free for 60 days. 
  • The Verizon Lifeline Discount program offers discounted internet service to qualifying low-income households. You can learn more about what Verizon is doing to respond to the pandemic here

Homeless Services

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has created a guide for state governments on working with FEMA to fund non-congregate shelter during COVID-19. 

ARLINGTON COUNTY

  • All emergency shelters remain open. Additional sanitation protocols, health screenings, and staff trainings are being implemented.

CITY OF ALEXANDRIA

  • Access information on the City’s homeless shelters and services for individuals experiencing homeless here.

FAIRFAX COUNTY

  • The County’s emergency shelters remain open during the epidemic. The Office to Prevent and End Homelessness is working to implement CDC best practices in all emergency shelters, and to ensure access to COVID-19 testing and treatment for individuals experiencing homelessness. 

LOUDOUN COUNTY

  • Access information on the City’s homeless shelters and services for individuals experiencing homeless here.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY

  • The Prince William Board of County Supervisors has appropriated $324,534 from state and federal grants and $300,000 from Affordable Housing Proffer Funds for housing the homeless during the COVID-19 crisis. The Department of Social Services will use $189,000 of the funding to provide non-congregate shelter in motels for individuals experiencing homelessness who have tested positive for COVID-19, been exposed to COVID-19, are over age 65 or have an underlying health condition that places them at increased risk. Learn more here.
  • A list of additional resources for individuals experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic is available here.

Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Updates

ARLINGTON COUNTY

  • The Arlington County Board adopted a revised fiscal year 2021 budget reflecting the economic impact of COVID-19 on April 30, 2020. View the County Manager’s revised fiscal year 2021 budget overview presentation here. Housing-related provisions are described on slide 9, COVID-19 related funding (including housing and safety net funding, and relief for non-profits and human service providers) is outlined on slide 12.

CITY OF ALEXANDRIA

  • The City Council adopted a revised fiscal year 2021 budget reflecting the economic impact of COVID-19 on April 29, 2020. View the revised fiscal year 2021 budget here. Changes to affordable housing expenditures are described on page 16; the City Manager’s recommendation to reinstate the Alexandria Home Ownership Preservation Grant program is described on page 18; anticipated Capital Improvement Program (CIP) project adjustments, including changes in affordable housing funding, are described on pages 20-26. 

FAIRFAX COUNTY

  • The County Board adopted a revised fiscal year 2021 budget reflecting the economic impact of COVID-19 on May 12, 2020. You can view the revised fiscal year 2021 budget here. Changes to affordable housing funding are described starting on page 17.

LOUDOUN COUNTY

  • The County Board approved the fiscal year 2021 budget on April 7. In lieu of revising the fiscal year 2021 budget to reflect the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board approved an appropriations resolution to reserve $100 million in fiscal year 2021 general fund expenditures to guard against a potential revenue shortfall. Additional information on the fiscal year 2021 budget and the appropriations resolution can be found here.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY

  • The County Board adopted a revised fiscal year 2021 budget on Tuesday, April 28. Changes to the fiscal year 2021 budget to adjust for the economic impact of COVID-19 are described here

STATE BUDGET UPDATE

  • Gov. Ralph Northam will convene a Special Session of the Virginia General Assembly on August 18 to focus on the state budget after COVID-19 and address criminal and social justice reform.
  • On April 22, the Virginia General Assembly voted on amendments to the enrolled budgets (H.B.29 and H.B.30) that Gov. Northam proposed in light of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Northam’s proposed amendments included a number of changes to H.B.30 that will unallot funding for the state’s Housing Trust Fund, permanent supportive housing, eviction defense/diversion and affordable housing pilot programs, and the Department of Housing and Community Development. A complete list of the Governor’s proposed amendments is available via the Commonwealth Institute. 

Managing Stress

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking breaks from exposure to the news, taking deep breaths or meditating, trying to eat healthy, getting adequate sleep, making time for activities you enjoy, and connecting with others to share your feelings.