Resident Reflections on a Pandemic Year

As the pandemic moves into a second year we hold the hope for normalcy alongside the recognition that we are not past the loss, challenges, and need for caution. It has been quite a year, demanding changes that needed to be informed, fast, and flexible. As spring continues and our country ‘opens back up’, our work continues at a rapid pace. 

It has been quite a year for our residents and participants as well. While we have shared resident and participant perspectives throughout the pandemic, we invited a few to share their reflections on the last year and offer their words here.


“To learn in March 2020 that people would soon be sick and many would pass on was awful to hear. I learned I needed to be stronger, wiser, and more caring towards others. I learned a lot of new rules and really a new way of life. I learned that every day when I get out of bed I will have to make it count because tomorrow it never promised. My hardest challenge this year was learning my grandma had COVID. Even harder was learning I only had a little time left with the lady that had raised me and taught me everything. Sadly I did lose her in March of 2021 to COVID and pneumonia…I am hopeful my son and I will be better than ever because I know she is watching and guiding us all the way.” – Ashley G.

HRHA resident Sheila and her two sons at the Franklin Heights Community Clean Up Day. April 3, 2021

“In 2020, my biggest challenge was not working. COVID-19 is really scary. People dying, people I know dying, it’s really scary. Biggest challenge was also getting to know myself the past year, especially when we had the lockdown. Made you think about life a lot, goals, where you really want to be in life, and how to get things accomplished. It’s crazy how you were planning your future and then one big thing happens, and this time it happened to the whole world…I am looking forward to a healthy life, to accomplish the goals I have. I am also excited for my daughter to start college and also one day I want to be a home owner. I also had an opportunity to get another job this year so I’m grateful for it. Praying that the world will come in peace and there will be a solution for COVID-19. I thank God for everything I have. I’m glad for the help from FSS, knowing someone is there to help you reach your goals.” – Allonia A.

“I have learned many things this past year 2020…Since having to sit at home I have used this time to go back to college and trying to be able to open up a food truck business, praying by the end of this year. The hardest part of 2020 was not seeing my children in person. Thank God for video visits! I miss the big hugs and cooking together in the kitchen and sitting around talking and playing games. I do look forward to things changing soon and I can do all of that with my children and go to parks and Skyline Drive. They can even come and watch me graduate in the beginning of 2022. I am ready for life to happen again.– Ramona A.

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.


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 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 

Goal Met: Over 1,000 masks in two weeks

In two weeks community members of Harrisonburg and Rockingham county helped supply HRHA with over 1,000 cloth face masks.

We are so grateful for all the masks that came in and the many hands who made them. We still welcome mask donations, though will not be able to provide compensation at this time. Please check in with other local organizations who may have a more pressing need for masks.

Thank you for helping increase the safety and well-being of our whole community by ensuring our residents have a face mask when they leave the house.

Thank you!

COVID-19 Temporary Waivers & Alternative Requirements

Summary of Public Housing and HCV Temporary Waivers and Alternative Requirements

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released waivers and alternative requirements for Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. HRHA has adopted specific waivers noted in the chart linked below, effective April 15, 2020, with the respective time frames and details included.

View: HRHA COVID-19 Temporary Waivers & Alternative Requirements

Community Call for Cloth Face Masks

The Harrisonburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority (HRHA) is asking for community support in providing washable face masks for our residents and staff. We will also connect donated masks to those experiencing homelessness and the community members who work with them. HRHA is willing to provide compensation. Masks can be dropped off at our main office at 286 Kelley St in Harrisonburg. We are aiming to gather and distribute 1,000 cloth face masks over the next month. Can you help us do that?

Questions? Contact our Resident Services Coordinator Everett Brubaker
– Through our Facebook page
– Though email:
– Through the website contact form

You may also call our main office M-F 9:00am to 4:30pm at 540 – 434- 7386

Please share with your neighbors and networks!

Instructions for making cloth face masks from the CDC

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 

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.


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:
• Changes in household can be submitted via an online 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.