Local Counties Get Millions For Emergency Tenant Relief

Local Counties Get Millions For Emergency Tenant Relief

3:34pm Mar 17, 2021
Tenants' rights advocates march to the JFK federal building in Boston in January. MICHAEL DWYER/AP

North Carolina counties will have money to provide emergency rental assistance under a COVID-relief measure signed by Governor Roy Cooper last week, and some housing advocates are concerned the money won’t reach renters quickly enough.

This state relief bill is different from the national stimulus package recently signed by President Joe Biden.

The $1.7 billion legislative measure designates how federal funds previously earmarked for states will be spent in North Carolina. 

Among the largest allocations is more than half a billion dollars from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance program.

The measure allots about $16 million to eligible residents of Forsyth County, $20 million to Guilford, and $4 million for Watauga.

Isaac Sturgill manages Legal Aid of North Carolina’s housing practice group. He says the financial distribution to renters from a previous federal relief effort has been slow, and many families are still waiting for help.

“That's especially concerning right now because the only eviction protections we have right now are set to expire at the end of this month," he says. “And so the concern from our perspective is, is that if those protections are not extended, that the money is not going to come quickly enough.”

Sturgill says he’s hoping funding for a new rental assistance hotline will make it easier for renters to get the money more quickly.

He says the organization is getting a record-high number of calls for help, with some people struggling to find work and owing back pay of as much as $8,000. 

 

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