COVID-19 April 6, 2020 Update

Staying at home is the best way to help keep you, your family, and your community safe.

HRHA is continuing to operate on essential staff status to support the Governor’s Stay-at-Home order. We encourage all residents and community members to follow these orders: traveling out for essential items only, staying six feet away from individuals, and restricting all visitors to your units/homes. We thank you in advance for your cooperation and assistance. Together we can successfully get through these times.  – Michael Wong

April 6, 2020 updates are as follows: 
1. A 120 day moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent has been established.
2. Late fees have been suspended.
3. Repayment agreements can be extended upon request to the Housing Authority.
4. No tolling on housing searches.
5. Housing Choice Voucher Recertifications will be completed by mail.
6. Interior Pest control services are temporary halted until further notice.

Additional changes, forms, updates, and more can be found at www.harrisonburgrha.com/covid19 

Social Security Commissioner Press Release Regarding COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments for Beneficiaries

On Friday April 3, 2020 Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul provided an update to persons who receive SSI in relation to the recently passed COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments. Social Security beneficiaries will receive their economic impact payments, and filing a tax return is not required for these persons.

More details can be viewed in the Press Release.

COVID-19 March 30, 2020 Update

HRHA is monitoring the COVID-19 situation seriously and adjusting operations accordingly. As you know, HRHA serves some of the most vulnerable populations in our community. We will provide weekly updates as the situation progresses. Ensuring our residents remain healthy and housed, and keeping our staff safe, remain priorities.

 

Moving Forward-Please accept my thanks and appreciation to all our residents, program participants, and community stakeholders for working with us as we implemented social distancing policies and changed how we do business.  For the near future, we will continue operating on essential staff status with limited public access to the main administrative office- being responsive to all communications through email, mail, and telephone.  We recognize the housing need within our community and anticipate resuming processing of new applications and leasing up in mid-April.   We apologize for any  inconvenience with our temporary suspension of new admissions. 

We are hearing firsthand how the virus has impacted many in our community, the trauma of adjusting to the economic change, and the uncertainty with the near future.  We want to be as responsive as possible with the understanding of the importance of working together to support public health and reduce the impact of COVID-19 within our community.  Thank you and be safe.

– Michael Wong, Executive Director, HRHA

 

Updates Effective 4/1:

The Virginia Governor’s stay-at-home order is important and captures the seriousness of this pandemic. However, submitting or picking up documents at the Housing Authority office is still permissible/allowed under this order. Further clarifications for future activities related to government funded housing will be announced.

New Administrative office hours for pick-up and delivery: 9:00 AM- 4:30 PM

No late rent fees for all HRHA owned properties for April 2020

Housing Choice Voucher Program participants have up till  3/30 to report any income changes for April 2020

COVID-19 March 23, 2020 Update

HRHA is monitoring the COVID-19 situation seriously and adjusting operations accordingly. As you know, HRHA serves some of the most vulnerable populations in our community. We will provide weekly updates as the situation progresses. Ensuring our residents remain healthy and housed, and keeping our staff safe, remain priorities.

March 23rd updates are as follows:

1. Phone coverage will continue at the Main office M-F 9-5, with the lobby open for drop off or pick up of forms and documents.

2. For all program participants, we are accepting any decrease in changes of income for April’s rent up to March 30, 2020. Change in income can be updated through our online form HERE.

3. Effective immediately, HRHA will delay processing any income increases reported by HCV participants. Changes should still be reported. HRHA will clarify and modify this process in the coming weeks, to include provisions for new COVID19-related unemployment income.

4. We are temporary suspending any late fee charges for rent effective April 1, 2020.

5. We are planning to start issuing vouchers/rental assistance in April 2020.

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Existing Operating Procedures effective March 16, 2020
1. All interim and re-certifications will be conducted through an online form or over the phone until further notice.
• Income changes can now be submitted via an online form: https://harrisonburgrha.com/change-in-income-form/
• Changes in household can be submitted via an online form:
https://harrisonburgrha.com/change-in-household-form/
• Annual certification paperwork will be mailed, with instructions for completing.

2. The main office will continue being closed to the public. Documents can be signed/dropped off but in person meetings will not be held.

3. JR Polly Lineweaver and Lineweaver Annex buildings are closed to visitors. Only family and health care personnel may enter. All entrances except for the front entrance will be locked. Family and health care personnel must sign in. Entrance will be open 9:00am to 4:30pm.

4. Work orders will only be completed if life or safety issue.

5. Rent statements will be mailed, NOT picked up in office.

6. New applications for housing assistance, and move ins will be temporarily suspended. We will provide notice when new applications and move ins will resume.

7. HRHA is working diligently to prevent delays in housing assistance payments to HCV landlords. Thank you for being patient during this time.

Our website is updated regularly and includes general information about the virus as well as updates to our operating procedures as they are developed. Thank you for your patience during this time.

JMU CMSS partners with HRHA for Kids Cultural Fair – MLK Week 2020

Despite the cold rain, a dozen or more kids from Franklin Heights scampered over to the basement of the Reservoir St Office for a Kids Cultural Fair. Put on by volunteers with the James Madison University Center for Multicultural Student Services, the fair provided activities for children geared at self acceptance and celebrating diversity and community. The Cultural Fair was part of a range of activities, speakers, and events in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Week put on by the Center. We are incredibly grateful that JMU CMSS reached out to partner for their volunteer initiative this year and hope it can happen again!

 

two student volunteers standing in front of the Reservoir St basement below a sign that reads JMU CMSS Martin Luther King Jr CelebrationTwo student volunteers with JMU CMSS help children cut out and make paper people

Addressing homelessness across the region

A Continuum of Care (CoC) is a collaborative funding and planning system mandated by federal and state government. The Western Virginia CoC (VA-513) covers the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren, the towns within those counties, and the cities of Winchester and Harrisonburg. The Western Virginia CoC receives federal funding to provide homeless services through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Members of the Western Virginia CoC at the Build for Zero Conference in Denver - October 2019

Western Virginia CoC members at the Built for Zero Conference in Denver, CO. Oct 2019 From left to right:
Oscar Cerrito-Mendoza, Housing Services Manager, AIDS Response Effort, Winchester, VA
Sheila Orndorff, Executive Director, Shenandoah Alliance for Shelter, Woodstock, VA
Vine Adowei, Western Virginia CoC Coordinator, HRHA, Harrisonburg, VA
Shannon Porter, Executive Director, Mercy House, Harrisonburg, VA
Seli Perry, Director of Operations, Mercy House, Harrisonburg, VA

The primary goal of the CoC is to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring. Under the umbrella of the CoC, nonprofits and government agencies address homelessness with a variety of programs and services. The Western Virginia CoC has received HUD grants for permanent supportive housing, and to oversee the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), a client database system (See page 3 for more on HMIS). Additionally, the Western Virginia CoC receives state funding through the Virginia Homeless Solutions Program (VHSP) grant for prevention, rapid re-housing, Centralized Intake, street outreach, emergency shelter, and Housing Opportunities for Persons with Aids (HOPWA). HRHA is the lead agency for both grants and houses both the Western Virginia CoC Coordinator and the HMIS Coordinator. Learn more at: www.continuumofcare513.com

“I am excited about the innovative and collaborative ways in which our CoC is addressing homelessness and working to improve affordable housing throughout the region. I hope that more agencies and individuals will join our coordinated efforts to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring in our communities.” – Vine Adowei, Western Virginia CoC Coordinator

A Generous Community – 12th Annual Giving Tree Initiative a Success

The last of the gifts are going out this week to parents in the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. Since 2007, HRHA and the FSS program have teamed up with community partners on a Giving Tree initiative. For working families in the FSS program, December and the Holiday season can be incredibly stressful. HRHA creates ornaments with children’s names and gift requests and places them on tress at both the JCPenney Salon and Santa’s Workshop in the Valley Mall. Community members, families, and organizations pick out a child or two or more, purchase gifts, and return them to our office. This year with your help we provided gifts for over 90 children from around 40 families. All received gift in time for the Holidays.

We are incredibly grateful for WHSV for covering the initiative, as well as organizations like the Blue Ridge AACN and Broadway High school FFA Chapter who together provided gifts for nearly 30 children. We are also grateful to Diane and the JCPenney Salon team and the team at Santa’s Workshop at the Valley Mall for hosting the trees every year. Thank you for making this years Giving Tree a success.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

“I can’t even find the words to express how thankful I am! Honestly was terrified this month for Christmas. And now I am blessed I can rest easy for my children will have presents! Thank you thank you thank you!”

“Thank you so much for making sure my kids have a Christmas this year!”

“Thank you for saving Christmas!”

“This helps out in so many ways, I’m the only one working. Thank you”

“Being a single mom is tough. This helps ease the stress on me and more importantly brings Christmas magic to my daughters. Thank you much for being a real life Santa”

“Thank you for your generosity, thank you for helping my daughters have a good Christmas”

Toward Home Ownership

A partnership between the City of Harrisonburg and HRHA, the Homebuyer Assistance Program was established to help low to moderate income, first-time home buyers purchase a home in the city of Harrisonburg. A dedicated HRHA staff member assists eligible individuals and families with improving their credit score, taking a Homebuyer Education Course, connecting with local lenders and realtors, and overall home buying readiness. Funds were established to offer both down payment and closing cost financial assistance to successful program participants. This past year, two Harrisonburg families successfully completed the program, purchasing homes in Harrisonburg City limits for the first time.

Katie and her husband standing in front of their new home in Harrisonburg

Katie and husband Said in front of their new home. November 2019

“I am very grateful for the Homebuyer Assistance Program because without it, I would not be a home owner now. There are so many details and confusing elements to buying a home, especially for a first-timer like me. I am so thankful this program exists and I just want to shout it from the rooftops in case more people qualify and don’t know about it! I cannot wait to see what the future holds for my family in our new home and in this great community. Thank you to everyone who played a part in helping me through this.”

– Katie T.

Homebuyer Assistance Program Participant October 2019

 

Interested in the Homebuyer Assistance program or know someone who might be? Learn more and apply HERE, or by calling (540)-437-9545

HRHA Welcomes New FSS Coordinator

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program is one of the primary avenues HRHA utilizes to help families develop skills, improve financial stability, and move toward self-sufficiency. The Coordinator for this program provides the necessary case management, vision, and oversight to ensure participant success. The Coordinator helps connect FSS families with dozens of community resources and partners, provide resume and job readiness assistance, and aid families in setting & meeting goals. Shirley Sheets has led this program for the last 12 years, but has recently moved to a position with the County schools. We will miss Shirley dearly but are excited to welcome Zoe Parakuo as the new FSS Coordinator. Zoe Parakuo portrait

Zoe brings a wealth of experience to the FSS Program. Originally from Kenya, Zoe moved to the U.S. in 2009, attending Harrisonburg High School and then Eastern Mennonite University. She holds a B.A. in Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution from EMU, where she was active in the International Student Union, Black Student Union, and Peace Fellowship. Following graduation Zoe served with Mennonite Central Committee in Tanzania as a Women’s Empowerment Mentor. After returning to the U.S. Zoe worked as an Assistant Case Manager with our local Church World Service office. Zoe is excited to connect with our FSS participants and continue to grow the program, empowering individuals and families to move toward self-sufficiency.

Questions about the FSS Program? Feel free to reach out to our office at 540-437-9545.