CHARLESTON — A new state program will help renters and landlords hurt by Covid-19.

When open for applications, the Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program will offer direct financial assistance to renters who have lost their job, had their income reduced or suffered a significant cost or financial hardship because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“First and foremost, I want to thank our federal partners for allocating these funds to West Virginia,” Gov. Jim Justice said. “This funding is going to be such a blessing to so many hardworking West Virginians who so desperately need it, and I am proud of all the work the Housing Development Fund has done to get this program off the ground.”

The West Virginia Housing Development Fund stresses that the program is not yet open for applications, so check the Fund’s website, www.wvhdf.com, for updates. Fund officials expect additional guidance on the rental assistance program in the coming days. Funds from the U.S. Treasury are expected to be advanced to the state later this month.

Program guidelines reserve funding for individuals who have qualified for unemployment benefits or who have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the coronavirus outbreak, are at risk of being homeless, have been served an eviction notice or are living in unhealthy conditions.

“Safe, stable housing is vital if we are ever to return to some sense of normalcy” said Fund Executive Director Erica Boggess. “The Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program will provide much-needed relief. We stand ready with Governor Justice to help and do all we can for West Virginians impacted by this pandemic.”

Some important points about the program include:

• The program is for renter households with incomes no more than 80 percent of area median income.

• Landlords and owners may apply on behalf of tenants meeting the eligibility requirements, so long as the tenant cosigns the application, the landlord provides documentation to the tenant and the payments are used to satisfy the tenant’s rental obligation to the owner.

• Priority will be given to households with incomes of no more than 50 percent of AMI and to households in which one or more household member is unemployed and has been unemployed for 90 days.

The Fund will update its website with more information about the Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program as it becomes available. For more information, call 1-866-623-6284.

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