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Northern Virginia counties address rent ‘crisis’ as calls for help continue

LEESBURG, Va. — At a Loudoun County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, advocates called on their elected officials to take action to prevent evictions, saying that many renters are struggling to pay their rent each month.

Those advocates, who are members of the group New VA Majority, said that while the early days of the pandemic in 2020 were difficult for renters, the problem has not gone away. That’s why they urged the county board for solutions, which it appears are on their way.

One of those renters, Kellin Orellana, asked for help during public comment when she addressed the board in Spanish and asked the government to do more to assist.

“We want the supervisors to hear us because this can’t happen anymore,” she said via a translator in an interview with DC News Now. “We need their help.”

Orellana and others are asking the county to commit federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act toward rent relief — including a buy-down program for those who spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

“We’re hearing every day about evictions, every day about rent going up, every day about people asking us if we know about more affordable housing that they can move to because their rent’s doing up,” said Sofia Saiyed, the campaign coordinator with New VA Majority.

Saiyed said — it’s a crisis in Loudoun County, and she applauds those who have taken action. She doesn’t have to look far. In neighboring Prince William County, the government announced on Tuesday that it’s allocating nearly $3 million to a nonprofit that said the funding will address this major problem in the community.

“Hotels are for visitors and staycations,” said Jinnae Monroe, a board member with The Human Services Alliance of Greater Prince William. “They’re not supposed to be homes for our local residents because there’s no other way.”

The Human Services Alliance of Greater Prince William Interim Director Peggy Kimmey added: “the need is still there, and as long as the funding’s there, we’re able to provide that [help].”

Orellana expressed hope that help comes to Loudoun County sooner rather than later.

“I want to raise my voice,” Orellana said in Spanish. “I want to make sure the supervisors are going to do a program that is going to help the renters.”

At the same time, advocates want to ensure everyone who needs the help can access it regardless of their native language or resources.

“We think that the county has made a lot of progress and there’s still more progress to be made,” Saiyed said.

The program in Prince William County, which is run by The Alliance, states that renters may qualify if:

  • Their rental unit is in zip codes: 20109, 20110, 20111, 20137, 20143, 22026, 22172, 22191, 22192, or 22193
  • Or the person whose name is on the lease and who is applying for help is 55 or older
  • Or the person who is applying for help can prove their rent challenges are due to COVID
  • And your gross household income is no higher than 80% of the area median income

You can click here for more information, and how to apply.

Meanwhile, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors could approve a program to allocate part of $12 million in American Rescue Plan Act money set aside for housing initiatives as rent relief.

The program, which would get $5.75 million, would give rental assistance to households earning no more than 80% area median income and administer a Low Income Housing Tax Credit Loss Mitigation Program.

More information on that program will be available if the board approves it.

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