RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia is launching a new program to help people struggling to pay their rent or mortgages amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday at a Capitol news conference that his administration is putting an initial $50 million in federal coronavirus-relief funds toward housing assistance.

Starting next week, Virginians whose ability to cover housing costs has been hurt by the pandemic can apply for financial assistance. He said the state will target outreach to communities of color, which he said have been disproportionately hurt by the virus.

Northam’s announcement comes as a moratorium on evictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic has been lifted by the Supreme Court of Virginia, paving the way for eviction proceedings to resume after a ban was put in place in March.

Northam said he’s also urging chief circuit court judges around the state to further extend the moratorium “as appropriate in their localities.”

Tenant advocates said thousands of families that are struggling financially because of COVID-19 could be at risk of losing their homes. They praised Northam’s decision but said more money will likely be needed.

Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement said a total of $150 million to $250 million in housing assistance may be needed through the summer.

 

 

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