What’s causing lag in distributing Wake County rental assistance funds?

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – House Wake was specially designed to help people pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s processing thousands of applications from those in need, which is resulting in some lags in getting people aid.

After receiving a complaint from one viewer about her landlord not getting rent money for two months, Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia looked deeper into the program.

Both the City of Raleigh and Wake County are providing funds for House Wake.

Nancy Powell applied for the program in April and was told she’d get rent paid from June through September.

“They said in the beginning of June they’d have money to my landlord in seven days,” Powell said. “It never happened.

After a series of emails from Sbraccia, Wake County was able to work with the vendor to get Powell’s payments made to her landlord that day.

The Telemon Corporation is the third-party vendor that was chosen by competitive bidding to administer the program. Wake County said Telamon is processing applications as quickly as possible, which the county said averages more than 32 a day.

To date, the program has:

  • Received 6,293 applications
  • 2,424 are completed
  • 332 were denied
  • 2,537 remain in-process

“In process” means it is waiting on documentation from either landlord or applicant. Wake County said extended wait times encountered by recipients are because the vendor is waiting for that documentation.

Wake County admitted there is a delay between approval and payment, saying it averages 30 days.

The county blames those delays on “the influx of applications” last month for the program. It said Telamon is hiring additional personnel to process the increased paperwork.

Funds are sent out on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If the landlord requires a mailed check as opposed to direct deposit, the county said those checks can take up to 10 days to reach the recipient.

The county claimed there are very few complaints about the program, but admitted it gets a steady stream of emails and phone calls from people checking on the status of their applications.

The county said it tries to answer quickly all those inquiries and notes it takes about four days between the time someone expresses initial interest in the program and staff from the vendor contacts them.

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