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Gov. Justice Again Urges West Virginia Renters to Take Advantage of Tax-Free Financial Support

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice was joined by Erica Boggess, Director of the West Virginia Housing Development Fund, to provide an update on the Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program.

The program provides financial assistance to renters who have lost their job, had their income reduced or suffered a significant cost or financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Landlords with tenants who are struggling with rent or utility payments due to COVID-19 may be eligible for rental assistance as well.

“We know that there are people that are out there that are still hurting, and that’s why we want to make sure that we’re getting these dollars out to West Virginians in need,” Gov. Justice said. “We all need to pull the rope together and get everyone on board so this program can be a success.”

“To date, we’ve distributed $53.7 million, helping almost 13,000 households for an average of $4,100 per household, tax-free to the renters. Once the applications are here, we’re seeing that 96% of applicants are receiving funding, but we need more people to apply,” Boggess said. “West Virginia has among the highest homeownership rates in the country. The U.S. Treasury has begun to recapture funds that aren’t being used. So for us to preserve as much of this funding as possible and use it in West Virginia, we really need to spread the word and get more and more people to apply.”

Gov. Justice once again provided an update on his announcement last week that he and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin sent a joint letter to the U.S. Administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, calling on CMS to grant a limited waiver of its vaccination requirement at rural or state-run facilities due to severe staffing shortages.

Yesterday, United States Senator Joe Manchin announced in a statement that he spoke with CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, saying of their conversation: “Administrator Brooks-LaSure told me that the goal of CMS is to help hospitals get their staff vaccinated, not kick them out of the Medicare program.”

Sen. Manchin went on to say: “She assured me that facilities will not be kicked out of the Medicare program if their entire staff isn’t fully vaccinated, as long as facilities are making a good faith effort to vaccinate staff and implement best safety practices.”

“We’ll take it,” Gov. Justice said during his briefing Friday. “We’ve got to do everything we can to make sure that our rural hospitals can stay up and running without us – God forbid – having to end up shutting something down.”