DURHAM N.C. (WNCN) – Millions of dollars in federal rental assistance will soon be available to Durham households impacted financially by the pandemic.
Applications for Durham’s first round of COVID-19 rental assistance closed in early October.
As of last week, the county’s department of social services paid out more than $12.7 million to nearly 2,500 people.
However, the county is still working through a backlog of another 2,500 applications that are still waiting on relief, city officials said.
The City of Durham is now creating a new program to shell out the second round of Emergency Rental Assistance funds — more than $6.4 million.
Unlike before, the city is not working with the county’s social services to get the money out. Instead, it is partnering with the non-profit law firm Legal Aid North Carolina.
“It is going to have a dramatic effect on the outcomes for our clients and tenants in general in Durham,” said Sarah D’Amato with Legal Aid NC’s Eviction Diversion Program. “Our hope is to do what we can, especially with the folks who are now waiting for assistance.”
Legal Aid NC is planning to hire nine outreach workers to operate a call center and set up regular clinics once the funding applications open. Three of those workers will also be stationed at the Durham County courthouse.
“To also meet with tenants and clients who are facing evictions there so that we can get that process started,” D’Amato said.
This second round of rental assistance funding will be for new applications only.
D’Amato said the new funds will help people who missed the previous deadline or for some reason did not get any rental assistance the first time around.
She said she knows of many families who are waiting for the program to open.
“The most important thing that a family can have over the holidays is a roof over their head,” D’Amato said.
The city, along with Legal Aid NC, hopes to launch the new rental assistance program in mid-December before Christmas.