CHARLESTON, W. Va. – A statewide program that helped renters with housing costs during the COVID-19 pandemic is coming to an end.

The West Virginia Housing Development Fund (WVHDF) recently announced changes to eligibility for assistance under the Mountaineer Rental Assistance program. The application portal will remain available for a limited time for new applicants seeking assistance with paying rent and utilities.

Starting Tuesday, tenants who have already received funding will not be able to reapply, the WVHDF said. Applications submitted before August 9 will still be reviewed for eligibility and processed, and new first-time applications will be reviewed in accordance with the Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program and U.S. Treasury guidelines.

Erica Boggess, executive director of the WVHDF, said the change was necessary because of the program’s success.

Erica Boggess

“We have been running this program for about 17 months now. It is very successful. We dispersed $139 million for 45,000 claims,” Boggess said.

The Mountaineer Rental Assistance program was funded through federal COVID-19 relief funding to provide emergency rental assistance to help renters cover rental costs due to COVID-19 hardships. It was launched in March 2021.

Funds have also been made available to help with security deposits, utility hookups and recovery program fees.

Renters facing eviction and other housing stability issues now have access to free legal services through a unique partnership with Legal Aid of West Virginia through the Legal Help for West Virginia Renters program, said the WVHDF.

“The mission of the West Virginia Housing Development Fund is to increase the supply of and access to affordable housing for all of West Virginia,” Boggess said in a released statement. “This has been our goal long before the pandemic hit and will remain our goal going forward. We will continue to work with other agencies and developers across the state to ensure that all West Virginians have access to safe and affordable housing.

Officials said it was critical that tenants who have requested assistance review their applications to ensure all requested documents are submitted and to respond to any communication from their caseworkers, the WVHDF said. Failure to do so will result in the rejection of the application.

Landlords must be registered in the system to be paid for a tenant’s request. Landlords and renters can go to www.wvrentalassistance.com to review eligibility and document requirements. For assistance, call 1-866-623-6284 or visit help.wvmrap.com to sign in and view or track your application.