HRHA Updates Policies and Procedures Regarding COVID-19

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Cases in the United States began in January 2020 and continue to increase. In response, HRHA will be reducing person to person contact and restricting and/or eliminating office visits.

Updates to HRHA Operations effective March 16, 2020

1. All interim and re-certifications will be conducted through an online form ( or over the phone until further notice.

2. The main office as well as satellite offices will not be open to the public. Documents can be signed/dropped off but in person meetings will not be held.

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

4. Rent statements for Franklin Heights residents will be mailed, NOT picked up in office.

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


Additional policy clarifications and resources will be updated regularly at:

HRHA General Information and Protocol to COVID-19 (March 11,2020)

COVID-19 Information from the Virginia Department of Health 

COVID-19 Information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention 

Local Events Highlight Housing Challenges

The start of 2020 has seen a number of events aimed at highlighting Harrisonburg’s housing and homelessness challenges. The Point in Time Count in January provides the necessary data that helps inform our region on who is experiencing homelessness. On February 6, Asbury Methodist hosted “Disrupting Poverty in Harrisonburg’. The eventfeatured speakers from local agencies, including HRHA, who work and advocate in this space. HRHA’s Executive Director Michael Wong spoke about the rent burden experienced by around 50% of Harrisonburg residents and the challenging rental market. Wong as well as Shannon Porter of Mercy House, Sam Nickels of OCP, and Adam Blagg with Faith in Action spoke to a variety of systemic issues that drive this challenge. You can check out an overview of the event on WHSV’s website.

Last week JMU held a “Hacking Housing Insecurity” mini conference to drive conversations on affordable housing challenges. Faith in Action, a local coalition of congregations, the Islamic center, and synagogue, continues to work on affordable housing as their issue of focus for 2019/2020. Harrisonburg city and Rockingham continue conversations about homelessness and affordable housing challenges in our region.

Housing is at the core of many of the challenges our community faces. We are encouraged by the work individuals, faith communities, non-profits, and government are doing to pursue safe, sustainable, and affordable housing.

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”

Liberty Park – 13 Years Later

Before it was a park, HRHA leased the lot on the corner of N. Liberty and W. Wolf St. to the Mercy House Thrift Store. After a fire in August 1997 destroyed the building, the space was converted to a parking lot. Years later, a local non-profit working on Black’s Run restoration began talks with the City and HRHA. In 2005/2006 HRHA provided an easement for the land to Harrisonburg City and worked with a number of community partners to bring Liberty Park to life. This accessible park is now managed by Harrisonburg City Parks and Recreation, creating a special place downtown for beauty, rest, events, gardening, and more.



Liberty Park 2005 Liberty Park 2019


Subscribe Now to the HRHA Monthly Newsletter

HRHA is launching a monthly newsletter, available in both print and digital format. Interested in subscribing? Just click HERE to add your name to our listserve. The Newsletter will go out the first week of the month and features stories, news, updates, and more from HRHA. Housing continues to be a major challenge in our city. Our newsletter is one of many new efforts to better engage the Harrisonburgburg community on these challenges, and what we and other community partners are doing in response. Stay up to date and add your voice. Thanks!

Check out the September 2019 Newsletter.

2020 Five year plan, other administrative plans, available for review and comment through October 4, 2019

The HRHA Board of Commissioner’s August 21 meeting began the start of the public comment period for HRHA’s Annual, 5-year, HCV, and Property plans and policies. HRHA’s first main goal over the next five years includes becoming a Move to Work Agency (MTW). This would grant HRHA increased autonomy in the development of policies to improve program efficiency and effectiveness, increase participant’s self-sufficiency through rent reform strategies, and increase landlord participation to improve housing access. Upon selection into the MTW program, HRHA would develop a team of stakeholders and conduct community outreach and public comment processes related to the MTW goals. The second main goal involves increasing housing opportunities through unit development, private/public partnerships, expanded Fair Housing training, continued dialogue around social justice and neighborhood revitalization, increased communications efforts, and continued leadership in addressing regional homelessness.

Each plan can be reviewed in the Document Center, or by visiting the HRHA office.

Comments can be made by:
Mail:  to 286 Kelley St Harrisonburg VA, 22802 attn Mr. Michael Wong
Email: to
Website: through the comment box to the right, sent directly to Mr. Michael Wong
In-Person: during the public comment period at our 4:00 pm September 18 Board Meeting (286 Kelley St)

Garden Pride & Local Veggies

HRHA resident Anita was diligently weeding her garden beds this week. The beautiful blooms signaling the height of summer (and the height of weed season). Anita, who has been in HRHA housing for two years, has cultivated the many flower varieties from seed. “I have people stop and look from the road! I also have helped other residents who are interested in growing as well, like flowers or tomatoes.” The beauty of the property is difficult to miss!

Over at Commerce Village, residents have also been working to grow not only flowers, but garden veggies as well. Garden beds not only provide a space for reflection, joy, and good work, but can help support an individual or family’s food budget.

During the summer, the Harrisonburg Farmers Market provides an abundant variety of fruits and vegetables. For individuals or families who qualify for SNAP (The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the local farmer’s market (with support from community partners and the Virginia Fresh Match program) provides a matching program. SNAP participants are able to receive up to $20 of additional support to purchase local fruits and vegetables. You can learn more about and contribute to this program at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market Website.

HRHA Welcomes Two New Employees

Vine Adowei and Everett Brubaker joined HRHA this summer. Each hold an M.A. in Communication & Advocacy from JMU and are excited to further the important work of HRHA.

vine adoweiVine is the new Western Virginia Continuum of Care Coordinator. She was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria and came to Harrisonburg in 2013 to study at JMU. She became a U.S. citizen in 2018 and is looking forward to working to address homelessness and improve affordable housing in the region.




everett brubakerEverett is the new Resident Services and Communications Coordinator. He was born in Arizona, but has spent most of his growing up years in Harrisonburg. He lives in town with his wife and 6 month old son. Everett is excited to work at improving communication between HRHA and the community, while driving events and expanding opportunities for residents.