RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – As the national moratorium on evictions ends over the weekend, COVID-19 rental assistance programs both statewide and locally are seeing a surge in applications.
Wake County and the City of Raleigh have a combined $83 million left to give as a part of the House Wake Program meant to help people with rent and utilities who have been impacted due to the pandemic.
The housing director for Telamon Corporation, Brandon Bell, is working with the city and county to get that money into the hands of people who desperately need it — and need it now.
“Where we’re at right now, I think we’re only scratching the surface of what is really out there,” Bell said. “Every time that we thought, ‘OK, this is what the new normal is. The applications continue to increase.’”
Bell said as the national moratorium on evictions ends this weekend, there has been a 60-percent increase in applications in Wake County for rent and utility help.
“As we have checked closer to the end of this moratorium, we have seen a gigantic push from both landlords and tenants to try and get their applications through,” Bell said.
In Orange County, Housing and Community Development Director Corey Root said they have been able to give out nearly $7 million so far.
Root said even for people who get served an eviction notice soon, it’s not too late to apply for help and try to get funds.
“The eviction process is a multi-step process, and so it’s definitely not. If you’re hearing about this for the first time, it’s not the end of the road for sure,” Root said.
On a state level, the COVID-19 rental assistance HOPE Program is increasing individual payouts to cover around 95 percent of requested rent and 90 percent of back-paid utilities.
The HOPE Program hotline received more than 90,000 calls in July alone.
Now, state leaders are urging landlords to go to the Hope program to help tenants before serving an eviction notice.
“If you think your tenant might be eligible, please send us their name so that we can reach out and start this process,” Laura Hogshead with the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency said. “Because it is not too late to get help, and it is certainly more preferable to get a check for the back rent and the forward rent than it is to end up with an empty unit.”
Bell said Wake County applications can take around six weeks to process and get a check to landlords.
Meanwhile, Hogshead said they’re averaging payouts between two and three weeks.