Last Updated: November 15, 2022
Originally Published: July 9, 2021
May 2022 Update
- The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Rent Relief Assistance Program stopped accepting applications for Rent Relief at 11:59 p.m. on May 15, 2022.
- Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) public housing families who are still behind in their rent have the option of signing up for a repayment agreement for their unpaid balance.
- RRHA will continue to check Gov2Go (DHCD) regarding the status of Rent Relief applications that have been submitted PRIOR to the deadline and update resident accounts accordingly.
- As of May 2022, RRHA had 1,875 residents with a balance of $51 or more.
- From December 1, 2021 – May 15, 2022, RRHA input 2060 applications in Gov2Go (DHCD’s online application portal) for Rent Relief. (Note: This number does not include earlier applications for Rent relief submitted directly to Virginia Housing and Housing Opportunities Made Equal – HOME and Southside Community Development rent relief programs)
- In a final push to beat the deadline and assist RRHA public housing families who had not taken advantage of DHCD’s Rent Relief program, RRHA held a two weeklong Rent Relief blitz in every public housing community. These events garnered 309 applications from May 5–15, 2022.
- Public housing households who have a pending rent relief application (whether they applied on their own or consented to RRHA applying on their behalf), are currently not being considered for lease termination based on non-payment of rent.
- If a public housing household rent relief application was denied and they have not paid the full balance owed, they will have the option to sign up for a repayment agreement as long as they have not recently defaulted on a current repayment agreement. If that household does not sign up for a repayment agreement, then RRHA will move forward with lease enforcement action.
- Signing a repayment agreement is an option for an RRHA public housing family who owes past rent, as long as they have not defaulted on a current repayment agreement.
- A family who signs a repayment agreement is considered in “good standing” and RRHA will take no legal action against them for any unpaid amount so long as they make payments in accordance with the agreement.
- If a family misses two consecutive monthly payments under a repayment agreement, or if they fall behind in paying rent or other charges that come due after signing the repayment agreement, RRHA may take action to enforce the lease and/or repayment agreement.
- Each family will have one opportunity to sign a repayment agreement and can ask for that repayment agreement at any point until the court awards RRHA possession in an unlawful detainer proceeding.
- RRHA will utilize lease enforcement action for non-payment as a last resort and will use a PHASED approach starting with those households with the largest balances.
The process for regaining possession of an RRHA unit for non-payment of rent:
Step 1: Beginning the week of May 23, 2022, RRHA will issue 30-day lease termination notices to all households that owe $5000 or more and have not applied for rent relief or signed up for a repayment agreement or have defaulted on a current repayment agreement.
Step 2: After 30 days if the account has not been brought into good standing an unlawful detainer will be issued.
Step 3: RRHA will go to court after the unlawful detainer is issued. (Court date will depend on the court’s schedule and availability – generally 21 days after UD is issued)
Step 4: Judgement and possession issued by the court. If the resident appears in court, RRHA will schedule possession 10 days after court date. (This depends on the court’s schedule and any continuance requests from either party)
PLEASE NOTE: At any time during this process up to the time that the sheriff comes to the home and serves the notice to vacate, the leaseholder can pay the amount owed, and lease enforcement action will cease.
Next Steps: Phase II of lease enforcement for the number of families owing $1,000 to $4,999 is estimated to begin in July 2022.
Concerning RRHA’s repayment agreements, here are the facts:
FACT: All RRHA families who are behind on rent will be given an opportunity to sign a repayment agreement.
FACT: RRHA public housing families MUST pay their rent and other charges in addition to any amount owed under a repayment agreement.
FACT: RRHA will offer a repayment agreement for every kind of tenant debt, including rent, utilities, late penalties, or other miscellaneous charges.
FACT: No down payment will be required for the repayment agreement.
FACT: No family will be required to pay more than ten percent (10%) of their monthly adjusted income toward the repayment agreement each month.
FACT: If a family’s monthly adjusted income decreases, RRHA will decrease the monthly payment amount of the repayment agreement accordingly.
FACT: If a family’s income increases, RRHA will not increase the monthly payment amount of the repayment agreement.
FACT: Each repayment agreement has its own individual deadline. Because the repayment plan is income-based, repayment will take as long as each individual family needs to resolve the debt. As long as families make their monthly payments on time, they will be allowed to continue repaying their back debt until the debt is satisfied in full.
FACT: One missed monthly payment under the new repayment plan, will be added back to the tenant’s active ledger (just the amount of that one payment). This will not impact the rest of the repayment balance.
FACT: If two (2) or more consecutive payments of the repayment agreement are missed during any 12-month period, RRHA may terminate the agreement and proceed with lease enforcement action.
FACT: RRHA will never attempt to take a resident to court for debts that are addressed by a repayment agreement in good standing.
FACT: Any resident debt addressed by a repayment agreement in good standing will not count against the resident in any screening for eligibility to an RRHA housing program, including both tenant-based and project-based Housing Choice Voucher assistance.
FACT: Residents with repayment agreements in good standing can be admitted into RRHA’s Housing Choice Voucher program.
January 2022 Update
We have done our part. Now it’s up to the families to do theirs.
After an exhaustive year of knocking on doors, making calls, sending mailings, conducting counseling, filling out paperwork for rent relief assistance, and more, RRHA is making a final push to reach out to families who are still delinquent.
- RRHA will resume lease enforcement in January 2022.
- RRHA is partially funded by HUD and generous donations; rent payments are necessary to cover operating expenses so that we can continue to provide affordable housing.
- RRHA has applied more than $2.1 million dollars in rental assistance to qualified families’ accounts.
- “Come Current” outreach campaign encourages RRHA families who are behind in their rent to bring their balances current.
- If families need assistance, they must let their property manager know.
- Repayment Agreement plans are available with monthly payments capped at 10% of the family’s monthly adjusted income.
- No resident owing $50 or less will be evicted.
About the “Come Current” Outreach Campaign
RRHA has worked diligently to minimize the number of lease enforcement by reaching out to residents who are behind in their rent and offering repayment agreements, services, and resources to bring their accounts current and stay housed.
To help residents comply with their payment agreement obligations and avoid evictions, RRHA will continue to provide social services and financial education, including assistance with qualifying for and locating funding resources.
All RRHA public housing families have the opportunity to:
- Meet with their property manager to discuss their account and available resources: RRHA offers resources that range from financial assistance options, budgeting, employment assistance, and free or nearly free childcare.
- Enter into a repayment agreement: The plan adds 10% of the owed balance to the household’s monthly rent until the family is current.
- Apply for rent relief: Households can check their eligibility for the Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP) at dmz1.dhcd.virginia.gov/RMRPEligibility
- Get an adjusted rent payment: Rent is determined by household income. If there is a situation where income decreases, families can get their rental amount adjusted downward in proportion to the drop in income.
To ensure the campaign reached as many RRHA families as possible, outreach strategies have included:
- Phone calls and other direct outreach by RRHA property managers
- Email announcement to all known resident email addresses (2,453 recipients)
- Letters mailed to all families behind on their rent
- Placement of orange “URGENT” cards on doors of those owning $1,000 or more
- Door-to-door canvassing for hard-to-reach residents
- Announcements on RRHA’s social media accounts and website, rrha.com
- Paid advertising with TV, radio, digital, and bus boards
Come Current on Your Rent — We Can Help
About the Lease Enforcement
To the extent permitted by HUD and funding resources, RRHA does not intend to evict any tenants who are acting in good faith to comply with their payment agreement obligations.
- Over 1,000 households were still behind as of September 2021. RRHA has re-examined its tenant records to ensure that delinquent amounts are accurate and accounted for. As the largest public housing authority in the Commonwealth, housing nearly 4,000 families, RRHA will naturally have a greater total number of lease enforcement cases than smaller counterparts.
- RRHA is not permitted by HUD to write off or forgive delinquent rent payments. Every resident who is delinquent has been given the opportunity to enter into a payment arrangement. RRHA has assisted and will assist delinquent residents with locating and qualifying for funding resources to assist them in complying with their payment agreements.
- If necessary, unlawful detainers will still give families 30 days to enter a repayment plan.
- Effectively ending “cascading late fees,” RRHA implemented a permanent policy change that reduces late fees to $5.00, which is only assessed when the current month’s rent remains unpaid as of the 9th of the month.
- No resident owing $50 or less will be evicted.
- RRHA’s lease enforcement plan of action incorporates recommendations from legal and advocacy organizations that represent public housing families.
About RRHA’s Self-Imposed Enforcement Freezes & Financial Support
RRHA has closely followed and often exceeded, all lease enforcement moratoriums.
- November 2019: Months before the pandemic hits, RRHA halts all lease enforcement efforts due to non-payment to help RRHA families catch up on their rent. Freeze was originally scheduled to last until May 1, 2020.
- February 2020: RRHA offers “no questions asked” repayment agreement plans.
- December 2019–March 2021: RRHA secures more than $2.1 million dollars in financial assistance and has applied these funds to RRHA delinquent accounts.
- January 2021: RRHA public housing property management offices secure funding from a variety of partner organizations to assist more than 1,700 families. RRHA also applied to the Virginia Rent Relief system for $165,849.43 to assist qualified RRHA families. As of June 30, 2021, approved amounts total more than $40,000.
- April 2021: RRHA launches Come Current campaign encouraging families to get back on track. Freeze extended through June 30.
- July 2021: Freeze extended again through August 31.
- August 2021: CDC issues new eviction moratorium through October 3, 2021 (this order was ended on August 26, 2021 after the Supreme Court found it unlawful). RRHA extends freeze through October 31.
- September 2021: RRHA opts to extend its self-imposed lease enforcement freeze a final time through December 31.
- January 2022: RRHA will resume lease enforcement.
Other Examples of Communications & Media Coverage
RRHA’s Angela Fountain and KISS FM’s Miss Community Clovia encourage all RRHA families who are behind on rent to get in touch with their property management office. “This is serious…Don’t think that because the eviction moratorium has been extended that it will be extended again…”
Aired July 20, 2021
1,545 Public Housing Units Currently Behind on Rent as Eviction Moratorium Nears End
by Henry Graff, NBC12 | July 8, 2021