As the moratorium on evictions draws to a close at the end of next month, many renters are wondering what happens next.
Eleven percent of renters in Virginia are behind on their rent, according to Census surveys. That's 123,000 households, mostly people of color.
Sarah Treuhaft at the research and advocacy group PolicyLink says clearing all that rent debt is an equity issue. "We've had a national reckoning on structural racism in this county, and what we see now is the majority of people of color in this country are renters. They've been locked out of homeownership because of structural inequities, and now people are behind on rent and we need to clear that debt."
The good news is that rental assistance is available, and Congress has set aside about a billion dollars just for Virginia. Christie Marra at the Virginia Poverty Law Center recalls a conversation she had with a man in Northern Virginia who didn't think he qualified. "He thought he made too much money, and in fact any tenant who is at 50 percent of area median income is eligible for this money. Even if you make as much as 80 percent area median income you may be eligible."
She says people who are behind on their rent and in danger of being evicted when the moratorium ends next month need to know this: Money is available, and you might qualify. She says you can find out by calling your local legal aid society.