ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — Evictions have been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many tenants — and landlords — confused and in need of help.
Local non-profits teamed up to created the Alexandria Eviction Prevention Program, known as the AEPP, to offer assistance and connect tenants to financial support to pay their rent.
“While we may think it’s just as simple as saying, ‘Hey, you know what, I can’t pay my rent, I need some help,’ it’s not quite that simple,” said Danien Johnson, Director of Client Services at ALIVE!
The AEPP is a collaboration between non-profits ALIVE! and ACT for Alexandria, as well as the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance and Legal Services of Northern Virginia. The initiative was made possible through CARES Act funding.
“We realized that we were all operating in our own spheres,” said Mary Horner, Staff Attorney at Legal Services of Northern Virginia. “Together, we just decided to apply for this grant and see if we could take on filling those gaps.”
The Commonwealth of Virginia has prohibited evictions since August, but the statewide eviction moratorium is set to expire on December 31st.
Governor Northam put new notice requirements in place in November, allowing landlords to serve a 14-day notice with amount owed and rental assistance information. However, many tenants weren’t sure how to proceed.
“Once you do know about rental assistance, there is a barrier because it’s really difficult to complete the application. Especially if you do have a language barrier,” said Horner.
The requests for assistance keep on coming.
“As far as active cases that me and my staff are working on are upwards of 400,” said Johnson.
The organization says they are focused on helping Alexandria residents for now, but expanding their outreach to other counties is on the table for the future.
Due to the CARES Act funding expiring soon, AEPP is applying for grants to help residents in the new year.