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Struggling To Pay Rent During The Pandemic? The NC HOPE Program Makes Changes To Offer More Help.

Eviction Moratorium
Elise Amendola
In this June 9, 2021, photo, a woman applauds a speaker during a rally in Boston protesting housing eviction. The Biden administration announced Thursday, July 29 it will allow a nationwide ban on evictions to expire Saturday, arguing that its hands are tied after the Supreme Court signaled it would only be extended until the end of the month.

With the federal moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent ending this past weekend, the state program distributing federal pandemic-related rent and utility aid has increased the potential size of its awards. And it’s encouraging landlords to recommend tenants who might be eligible.

"We certainly wanted to find an appropriate way for landlords to be engaged, and so we wanted to make sure that we had a way to capture what we were hearing from landlords, which is, 'I believe my tenants would be eligible,'" said Laura Hogshead, chief operating officer of the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency and leader of the Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions Program, called the HOPE program.

“Sometimes there’s a contentious relationship between a tenant and a landlord, and so they may not be able to have that conversation,” she said. “But if the landlord can give us the information, and we can reach out as a neutral party, as a party that has assistance, we can sometimes broker that conversation.”

The HOPE program covers 88 rural and suburban counties. Urban counties and Native American tribes have their own programs.

Hogshead said it has so far awarded about $180 million to just over 56,000 households. That’s out of about $400 million it received in its initial allocation from the federal government. It’s expecting a second round of funding as well.

Among those applying, far more than expected have hit the rent cap, which was based on local fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment.

“And so we've increased the cap of assistance in order to keep people housed longer,” Hogshead said. “And then we've increased the cap on utilities as well because people have just fallen further behind on utilities based on the data we have from those 56,000 applications.”

Tenants can get more information on the HOPE Program website or from its call center at 888-927-5467. Landlords can submit tenant contact information through the website or call center.

Jay Price has specialized in covering the military for nearly a decade.
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