Williamsburg Health Foundation announces $1M grant to prevent renter eviction in Historic Triangle

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Funds from the Williamsburg Health Foundation grant will be paid directly to the landlords, but collaboration from them will also be necessary to work out a repayment plan with renters. (WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)

A new grant is coming to help out renters in the Greater Williamsburg area.

The Williamsburg Health Foundation announced on Monday the City of Williamsburg, James City County and York County would receive a $1 million grant to help prevent Greater Williamsburg residents from rental evictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is a profound, multifaceted connection between one’s housing and one’s health,” Carol L. Sale, WHF president and CEO, said in a statement from a news release. “So profound that Trustees of the Williamsburg Health Foundation made the challenging decision to increase the foundation’s annual spending limit this year which required reaching into the foundation’s corpus to fund this program.”

The million-dollar investment in a healthier Greater Williamsburg is divided among the three localities based on the size of its population and number of low-income households.

The Williamsburg received $270,000, James City County received $430,000 and York County got $300,000.

“This money is designed to help people who paid their rent pre-pandemic, who were stable pre-pandemic, to help keep a bad situation from becoming a desperate situation jeopardizing the long-term health and well-being of a family,” said Jack Tuttle, WHF Board Chair, in a joint news release.

The grant dollars will provide emergency rental payments for qualifying low- to moderate-income households.

“WJCC [Williamsburg-James City County] Public schools already have one of the highest rates of homeless students in the state,” Sale said. “Imagine if those numbers sharply increase because of fallout from COVID.”

“Our community will only be truly healthy when we have safe, affordable housing for all who live and work here. Too many families currently choose between rent and food — or rent and opportunities for their children,” she added.

RELATED STORY: WJCC Schools has three times the state average of homeless students

By granting these funds to the three localities, the WHF is also providing further resources for housing services.

“Every month since the pandemic began, those of us in housing get ready for the moratorium to end and the flood of evictions that will come with it,” Keith Denny, the housing manager of James City County, said in a prepared statement.

He noted having the funds from the WHF will provide a safety net for those at risk of eviction when the moratoria are no longer in place.

RELATED STORY: In a time of economic uncertainty, James City County applies for new grant to help residents

According to Denny, the funds from the grant will be paid directly to the landlords, but collaboration from them will also be necessary, as well.

“They need to agree to work with tenants to enter into a repayment plan for past due rent,” he added.

However, the WHF cannot provide rent relief for the long term.

“We do not intend to do so,” Sale said. “But, at this critical moment in the pandemic, we are certain that keeping individuals and families from falling into a cycle of homelessness and poverty is the best thing this foundation can do for both the immediate and long-term health of our community and the people who live here.”

Locality administrators in the housing services worked together to create a common application for the COVID-19 Eviction Prevention Program.

The application window opens Feb. 1.

Renters applying for the program must have had stable housing before the pandemic began. To see if they qualify for the COVID-19 Eviction Prevention Program, or if they need rent relief, renters should contact a representative in their locality:

Williamsburg: 757-220-6161
James City County: 757-259-5340
York County: 757-890-3885

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