Governor announces emergency funds for VA homeless, orders hiring freeze

By  | 

RICHMOND, Va. (Staff/AP) — Governor Ralph Northam has announced an initial $2.5 million in emergency funding to shelter Virginia’s statewide homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The support is designed to provide temporary housing for about 1,500 Virginians currently unsheltered or who rely on shelters that require them to leave every day. The funding will also provide housing for people in shelters who may need to be quarantined, or where social distancing is not feasible.

“As we battle this unprecedented public health crisis, we must make sure no one is left behind,” said Governor Northam. “I have issued a statewide stay-at-home order, but we know there are many Virginians with no home to stay in. With this funding, we will ensure people experiencing homelessness have access to immediate housing options and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Funding will be used for hotel and motel vouchers, case management, food, cleaning supplies, and medical transportation.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide partial funding to support people experiencing homelessness who are 65 and older, those with other pre-existing conditions, and those who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Northam says the commonwealth has implemented some state and federal protections against housing insecurity during the pandemic. The Supreme Court of Virginia has suspended eviction proceedings in all district and circuit courts through April 26, and evictions for all Housing Choice Voucher holders are halted for 120 days.

For all mortgages guaranteed by federal mortgage programs, including Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) mortgages, the mortgage provider will defer mortgage payments—principal plus interest—for up to three months for those who have lost income due to COVID-19.

Additional resources and information about Virginia’s COVID-19 response are available here.

VA coronavirus cases top 2,000

President Trump approves Virginia disaster declaration

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is instituting a hiring freeze of state employees and is telling agency heads to look for ways to cut budgets in response to the coronavirus.

Northam chief of staff Clark Mercer told agency heads in a Thursday memo obtained by The Associated Press that a recession is coming and the state revenues will be far below “even our most pessimistic forecast” from last year.

On top of that, Mercer said, the state is having to spend heavily on buying medical supplies, helping vulnerable populations navigate the pandemic, and other virus-related costs