Franklin Heights Halloween Drop-In

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) coordinators planned a Halloween drop-in on October 30 for residents in HRHA’s Franklin Heights. Stephanie, a resident of Franklin Heights (FH), did all the decorating, creating webs, stringing lights, and more to create a fun and safe Halloween atmosphere. One at a time, each family had the opportunity for a household picture (on polaroid to take home), pick a pumpkin and treat bag, and (for adults) to connect with an FSS coordinator to learn more about Moving to Work (MtW) and provide comment if interested. We had over two dozen families come through with over 40 kids!

Patience with her own winter squash

FSS Participant Cora and kids

Franklin Heights resident Stephanie did ALL the decorations for th eevent!

The basement of the Reservoir Office was converted into a fun and spooky walk through.

Moving to Work (MtW) Plan Available for Comment

In August, HRHA was selected to participate in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) cohort #1 of the Moving to Work expansion. Participation in the MtW expansion allows HRHA to develop local policies to meet MtW objectives, as well as flexibility on some spending. 

The MtW plan has been published, and will be available for pubic comment October 16, 2020 through November 16, 2020. The MtW plan will be posted online, on our Facebook page, and available for pick up at the HRHA Main Office during business hours (286 Kelley St., Harrisonburg).

From HRHA Executive Michael Wong:
Franklin Heights Unit in the fall
Residents, program participants and community partners,

The Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority (HRHA) is excited to share our Moving to Work (MtW) plan and invite comments on our proposed activities and goals. We are grateful for feedback over the last month and a half, which assisted in the drafting of the proposed plan. We encourage your participation in our public comment period, the public hearing at City Hall October 21, and the October 29th input meetings for residents and participants.

 

Explanation of plan, avenues for comment, and more at:

https://harrisonburgrha.com/mtw/

100 Families Campaign – Extended through 2020

September 30 marked the initial close of our 100 Families, 100 Days housing campaign. This campaign was something new for us, pushing us to expand our outreach efforts, community engagement, and internal processes. The campaign launched June 15, 2020 with the goal of securing housing for 100 families by September 30. Utilizing CARES Act funding we sought to connect with local landlords, offering financial incentives, a damages fund, expanded online portal, and more to expand affordable housing options locally. At the start of the campaign we had near 100 individuals and families who were approved for a voucher but unable to find a place to rent.

Through the campaign we were able to secure housing for 30 new families while bringing on 11 new landlords. We hosted 5 online landlord/HCV sessions and expanded program awareness through two radio ads, website posts, and local news coverage. We have decided that since we were unable to reach our goal we will expand our campaign through the end of the year. This means we will continue our outreach efforts to strengthen and expand our partnerships with area landlords while continuing to provide the landlord incentive program.

October also begins the major developments with our Moving to Work (MtW) agency changes. This month includes the release of our MtW draft plan, public hearings and comment period, resident & participants events, and more. For more information on what Moving to Work designation means for HRHA operations and policy, check out www.harrisonburgrha.com/mtw

First Resident and Participant Information/Comment Opportunity for MTW Tonight!

What policies can HRHA change to improve rent structure, certifications, and other elements that impact my voucher? How can HRHA improve my opportunists to achieve self-sufficiency?

The Board of Commissioners meeting will be September 16, 4:00pm, at the HRHA Main office on 286 Kelley St.

The first of many opportunities for residents and participants to learn more about the Moving to Work (MtW) process is this evening at the Board of Commissioners Meeting. Residents of HRHA and participants in the HCV program are invited to attend (masked and distanced) or may call in at the number below. The meeting starts at 4:00pm and is held at the HRHA Main Office, 286 Kelley St in Harrisonburg.

To learn more about MtW and learn/provide input at the September 16 4:00pm meeting, please call:

1 – 929 – 205 – 6099

Enter the Meeting ID: 856 8954 0424 when prompted.

What does the CDC Eviction Moratorium Mean for Me?

The information below is from HUD Assistant Secretary Hunter Kurtz. The Declaration required to be considered under the order can be found HERE.

On September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a Notice and Order under Section 361of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. § 264) and 42 CFR § 70.2, available here. To prevent the further spread of COVID-19, the Order is a temporary halt in residential evictions. This Order is separate from the now expired eviction moratorium in Section 4024 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

The Order applies to all tenants in the country (including assisted renters) who are subject to eviction for nonpayment of rent and who submit a Declaration as described in the Order (HERE). The Order is in effect from September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

The Order does not relieve any tenant from paying rent and following the rules or the law. Evictions for other violations of the lease or criminal acts may still occur under this Order.

Under the Order, tenants cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent, provided the tenant signs the Declaration that is attached to the CDC Order certifying that:

  1. They have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
  2. They expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), were not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
  3. They are unable to pay their full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  4. They are using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as their circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses;
  5. If evicted they would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters because they have no other available housing options.
  6. They understand they must still pay rent or make a housing payment, and comply with other obligations that they may have under their tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract. The understand that fees, penalties, or interest for not paying rent or making a housing payment on time as required by their tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract may still be charged or collected; and
  7. They understand that at the end of this temporary halt on evictions on December 31, 2020, their housing provider may require payment in full for all payments not made prior to and during the temporary halt and failure to pay may make them subject to eviction.

The Order does not relieve the tenants’ obligation to pay rent and the tenants must continue to comply with terms under the lease. However, tenants qualifying as “Covered Persons” under the Order cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent in violation of the lease if the CDC eviction protections are invoked (see below). Nothing in the Order precludes the landlords from charging or collecting fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the tenants’ inability to pay rent on a timely basis. Evictions unrelated to nonpayment of rent can still take place, e.g., criminal activity. Any state, local, or territorial area with a moratorium on residential evictions that provides the same or greater level of public-health protection can supersede the Order.

Under the Order, public housing and section 8 tenants are “Covered Persons” with eviction protection if they complete and provide the required Declaration referenced in the Order to their PHA or landlord. A tenant cannot be required to complete the Declaration. However, without it, tenants will not have the CDC eviction protection.

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HRHA continues to reach out to tenants behind on rent and encourages clear and quick communication from tenants to work out a repayment plan.

HRHA selected for Cohort #1 of HUD’s Moving to Work Expansion

The Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority (HRHA) has been selected to participate in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) cohort #1 of the Moving to Work expansion. This notification represents our intent to participate in the MtW demonstration and of our desire to receive public input on the plan development. Participation in the MtW expansion will allow HRHA to develop local policies to enhance our resident/ participant’s self-sufficiency outcomes, improve access and availability of housing, and implement evidence base strategies that promote program efficiency and efficacy. We are excited for this opportunity. 

HRHA has scheduled two resident/participant information and input meetings to be held by phone. Open to residents of Lineweaver and

 Franklin Heights, and HCV participants. 

September 16 at 4:00 PM (Meeting ID: 856 8954 0424)

September 30th at 4:00 PM (Meeting ID: 873 0086 8918)

To provide input at these meetings, please call 1 – 929 – 205 – 6099

Enter Meeting ID when prompted.

A public comment meeting on the draft plan is also scheduled for October 21 at 4:00 PM at the Board of Commissioners meeting. We will post publicly as additional opportunities become available. We will also be connecting with our community partners as plans develop. 

If you have any questions concerning the MtW expansion, please contact

Michael Wong, Executive Director at 540-434-7386 or wongway@harrisonburgrha.com

For more on the MtW expansion, visit our website at: www.harrisonburgrha.com/MTW

Family Self-Sufficiency graduate Alina pursues home ownership

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program is a 5-year program funded by HUD and coordinated by HRHA staff. Program participants work with one of our coordinators to establish goals around finance, education, work, and family at the start of the program. Participants sign a 5-year contract committing to work with us to reach their goals, increase their income, and become more self-sufficient.

FSS Graduate Alina holding graduation certificate at the Reservoir St Office

Alina with her FSS graduation certificate – August 2020

The FSS program is one of our most successful programs. With their housing costs subsidized, individuals and families are better able to focus on other critical pieces of self-sufficiency like reliable transportation, higher education or training, financial literacy, and more. As participants increase their income in the program, a portion of their increased rent payment is put in a savings (escrow) account. This money becomes available to them upon program graduation. Every year graduates leave our program better equipped to support themselves and their families.

This August, Alina Santos graduated from FSS. Alina started the program in 2015 without a job and with a substantial amount of debt. Through the five years, Alina worked with her FSS Coordinator to secure a job at Purdue and eventually Aarons, where she sees job growth opportunity. She worked on her financial literacy and management, paying of debts and raising her credit score from 400 to over 650. She began building an escrow (savings) as her income increased. She used some of her savings to buy a reliable car, saving the rest to have options for a down payment on a house down the road. She is currently working with our Homebuyer Assistance program and has completed the online homebuyer preparation course.

Western Virginia Continuum of Care Welcomes New Coordinator

The Western Virginia Continuum of Care (CoC) is proud to announce and welcome Isaiah Mejah as the new CoC Coordinator.  Mejah will be responsible for providing administrative and project leadership in planning, developing, writing, and monitoring the CoC administrative plans, policy and procedures, grants, and Continuum lead initiatives to end homelessness in the region. Mejah will work primarily out of the Reservoir St Office of HRHA.

Isaiah Mejah standing against a wall

Isaiah Mejah has been named the new Western Virginia Continuum of Care (CoC) Coordinator. He will be working out of HRHA’s Reservoir St office.

Mejah comes to the Western Virginia CoC from Pleasant View, Inc., where he served as Program Coordinator.  During to his tenure at Pleasant View, Mejah coordinated daily activities for two programs and collaborated with various community stakeholders in the health and advocacy field to ensure members of our community with disabilities meet their full potential.  In his role at Pleasant View, Mejah supervised 30 members of staff, conducted inter-organizational communications, and stayed updated on state and federal regulations related to programming at Pleasant View.  In addition to his role as Program Coordinator, Mejah also served as Green Committee Chair to support Pleasant View in meeting their financial needs and bolstering plans for the future.  Prior to his work at Pleasant View, Mejah worked at James Madison University (JMU).  Mejah received his Master of Arts in Communication and Advocacy from JMU and is fluent in four languages.

 

Mejah stepped into the CoC Coordinator position on July 27.

 

The Western Virginia Continuum of Care (CoC) is a collaboration of nonprofits, governments, schools, hospitals, law enforcement, and community members that works to prevent and end homelessness in the Shenandoah Valley. The CoC area includes Clarke, Frederick, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren Counties, and the Cities of Winchester and Harrisonburg.

HRHA invites public comments to 2021 Annual Plans

Public Comment Notice

 

The Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners Meeting will receive public comment on its proposed FY 2021 Annual Plan, Admission and Continued Occupancy Policies and Budgets at its meeting on August 19, 2020 beginning at 4:00 PM, or as soon thereafter as possible.  This meeting will be held at the Authority’s administrative office located at 286 Kelley Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia.

 

The Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority announces that its proposed FY2021 Annual Plan, FY2021 Budget, Administrative Plan for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, and Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policies for JR “Polly” Lineweaver, Lineweaver Annex, Franklin Heights and Commerce Village programs will be available for public review and comment beginning August 19, 2020 through October 3, 2020.  Copies may be obtained during office hours at the Authority’s administrative office, located at 286 Kelley Street, Harrisonburg, VA as well as on its website, https://harrisonburgrha.com/document-center/#board-of-commissioners-reports–minutes

HRHA Extends Eviction Moratorium Through August 24, 2020

At July’s Board of Commissioners meeting, the board unanimously approved a 30 day extension of the CARES Act eviction moratorium which was set to expire July 24, 2020. This is for residents participating in all HRHA housing programs. The new date is August 24, 2020. We encourage all tenants that are behind on their rents to either contact their property managers or private landlords to explore establishing a payment plan.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has provided some helpful resources for both residents and landlords to plan for and implement strategies to keep families stably housed and mitigate economic hardships due to COVID-19.

Residents and Tenants can check out the resources in the July 2020 HUD Tenant Pamphlet

Landlords can learn more about working with tenants to prevent eviction in the July 2020 HUD Landlord Pamphlet