Albemarle County is extending its partnership with the Legal Aid Justice Center that helped Albemarle County residents who were facing eviction because of a loss of income from the COVID-19 pandemic.
A pilot of the partnership that ran from December 2021 to May 2022 prevented 158 evictions, according to a county news release. The program will run for another year through June 2023.
“Many rent-relief programs are phasing out, yet there remain many Albemarle families still deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Albemarle Board of Supervisors Chair Donna Price said in the release. “Low-income households have not recovered as quickly, and programs such as this provide additional stability for households continuing to face financial hardships, using federal relief dollars to fund legal services and to provide wrap-around support.”
Albemarle County set aside $200,000 of federal stimulus funds received to support the partnership. As part of the program, Legal Aid provides counsel on a contract basis to renters facing eviction.
Legal Aid has worked throughout the pandemic to keep area residents housed, especially since a moratorium on evictions was lifted last year.
According to the release, the program takes into consideration the effect of contesting evictions on landlords who own less than three units. It also works to secure outstanding funds for landlords while keeping the families housed.
Those who receive eviction prevention assistance have to meet specific low-income criteria, according to the release.
“The purpose of the Eviction Prevention Partnership is to avoid eviction, assist individuals in securing rent-relief for outstanding rent, and ultimately allow families to maintain their current safe, affordable housing,” said Philip Holbrook, the county’s housing program manager, in the release. “Our office sees daily the importance of keeping families in their homes and is working to address eviction prevention at all levels, from last-chance mediation through this contract with LAJC to preventative and educational opportunities to curb issues before they escalate to evictions.”
The county also has provided mortgage and rental assistance through a partnership with United Way of Greater Charlottesville and the City of Charlottesville since July 2021 as a way to keep families in their homes, according to the release. The program has since assisted local households through the distribution of $836,479. This program remains available to income-eligible households and can be accessed by calling (434) 326-0950.