Housing Finance Authority Launches Emergency Rental Assistance Program

In this file photo, VIHFA Executive Director Daryl Griffith testifies before a Senate committee. (Barry Leerdam, V.I. Legislature)

The Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority announced on Thursday the territorywide rollout of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, a federal program made possible through the CARES Act of 2021.

VIHFA Executive Director Daryl Griffith said in a press release, “We are excited for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to launch on March 29, 2021, on all three islands. We know that it will be a life-changer for many of our residents who have suffered a loss of either total or partial household income due to the COVID pandemic of 2020-21.”

According to the press release, the program makes payments directly to landlords and utility companies on behalf of eligible residents and customers who have fallen behind in their ability to pay monthly rent or utility bills. The VIHFA staff is working with community partners to roll out the program in accordance with its commitment to helping V.I. residents maintain secure and safe housing for themselves and their families.

The rental assistance program, administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury, makes available $25 billion nationally to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds are provided directly to states, U.S. territories, local governments and Indian tribes. Local program information can be found at  www.vihfa.gov/erap.

The program is funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, which aims to provide fast and direct economic assistance for American workers, families and small businesses, and preserve jobs for American industries.