Commentary/Opinion
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Dear Landlords of the City of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Nelson and Orange:

We are living in unprecedented times, and successfully containing and getting through this pandemic will require unprecedented responses from all of us. As landlords, you have a unique and critically important way to contribute to the common good of our community: do not charge rent for the duration of the current COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic is financially devastating a constantly growing number of individuals and families in our area. It is also dramatically overloading the social safety net’s ability to cope with all the needs.

We are the organizers and operators of  a 100% volunteer-run mutual aid network dedicated to the survival of people who have little-to-no safety net. We collaborate with Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, the United Way of Greater Charlottesville, and local governments to distribute cash grants to those who qualify. We also provide groceries at no cost to hundreds of families who need them. We do our work at some health risk to ourselves, and many of us face the same total loss of income as the people we serve.

Please join us in taking care of everyone in our communities as best we can, to get through the current crisis. If you don’t charge rent during this crisis, you will be helping your tenants and strengthening the health and wellness of our entire community. Allowing them to shelter-in-place like everyone else, rather than having to go out and spread or risk contagion because they need to eat and pay the rent, is an incredibly effective way to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Like you, we love our neighbors. We don’t want to see them hooked up to a hospital ventilator worrying about how they’re going to pay rent, or facing eviction at the end of the pandemic because it was impossible to safely get rent money during the crisis.

We are doing everything in our power to make sure no one ends up in these situations. We ask that you join us in doing what is in your power: waive rent for residential, nonprofits, and small businesses for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We encourage you to take advantage of the various programs offered through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (and many other lenders) that will diminish the cost of offering rent waivers. And we encourage you to look to your own creative ways of making this rent waiver possible, for the good of the community. One example would be to allow students to end their leases early without penalty.

Everyone in our area is feeling fear and stress over the pandemic, but for the most vulnerable among us it is even worse, true desperation. Those already living paycheck-to-paycheck are losing their jobs and simply don’t have the money to pay rent and eat. Funds from the federal stimulus bill, once they arrive, will still not come close to covering the needs that we are witnessing in our day-to-day relief efforts.

Healthcare workers are doing their part. Teachers are doing their part. Grocery store workers are doing their part. Everyone staying at home is doing their part. We are doing our part. Join us; please do your part by waiving rent until the pandemic is over.

Cville Community Cares is a local grassroots mutual aid response to the COVID-19 pandemic working in partnership with local clergy group Congregate Cville. It consists of community members rooted in a philosophy of abundance; its organizing centers solidarity with its neighbors rather than charity. Its work is built on, and inspired by, mutual aid efforts such as Charlottesville Immigrant Transit Assistance, Hands Off Maria and the Charlottesville Community Resilience Fund. It is a partner in the Community Emergency Response Fund with the city of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation and the United Way of Greater Charlottesville.