RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) says it will work to help residents apply for rent relief before Virginia closes its program to new applicants later this month.

RRHA plans to hold sessions at each public housing community it manages to assist residents apply for Virginia’s rent relief program or for a repayment agreement for the full amount of rent they owe, the housing authority said in a release Wednesday.

Residents in need of rent relief who do not apply for assistance or sign a repayment agreement will have their lease terminated beginning May 16, with the initial phase including those “with the highest long term unpaid balances,” according to RRHA.

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) announced last month that the application portal for its rent relief program would close to new applications at 11:59 p.m. on May 15.

The sessions to help residents will be held at each property management office from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. RRHA will hold sessions for Gilpin residents on May 5, Whitcomb residents on May 6, Hillside residents on May 9, Fairfield residents on May 10, Mosby residents on May 11 and Creighton residents on May 12.

“We knew at some point that rent relief funding would come to an end,” RRHA Interim CEO Sheila Hill Christian said in a statement. “Now that we have the end date, RRHA wants to ensure that those families who are still in need of rent relief and have not yet completed their application, do so by the deadline.”

RRHA says the program has paid out more than $2 million in back rent for its residents and that nearly 700 applications “were put in the pipeline” by the housing authority. Letters were mailed to residents on April 29 and delivered door to door on May 2, RRHA said in its release.

“It is our goal to get everyone signed up while we still can. We do not want our relationship with our residents to end with lease enforcement and we are working diligently to avoid that outcome,” Christian continued.

Virginia’s rent relief program, set up to help tenants maintain housing during the pandemic, has processed 141,330 payments for nearly 105,000 households, totaling more than $713 million through March 31, DHCD said last month.

Concerns over long wait periods and backlogs in the application system have been reported across the commonwealth. Last December, the director of the Virginia Department of Housing shared that funding could run out and that the commonwealth requested at least $294 million in funding from the U.S. Treasury Department.

People applying for rent relief after April 21 will be prioritized based on their level of need moving forward, according to DHCD.

Emergency Rental Assistance calls for prioritization for households with incomes less than 50% of their area’s median income or those with one or more people who have not been employed for 90 days before the date of the application.

Applicants after April 21 will be prioritized based on this criteria and “processed on a first-come, first-served basis,” DHCD said in April.