Can central NC cities, counties afford to keep COVID-19 assistance programs?

Local News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — While COVID-19 infection numbers continue to drop, the impact of the pandemic reaches far beyond just health care.

“The economic devastation for many people in our community remains. This is what, as people have said, a k-shaped recovery,” said Durham Mayor Steve Schewel.

That’s why, with the help of federal funds, counties and cities in our area have offered programs to help people pay rent, utilities and even medical bills.

This week, Cumberland County and the City of Fayetteville launched a rental assistance program to help people impacted by the pandemic pay rent and utility bills.

They are allocating more than $10 million for the program.

“We are just seeing signs of people going back to work. However, there were months where people who may have been barbers or hairstylists, in the movie industry or in bars and restaurants their income suffered for months,” explained Albert Baker, communications manager for Fayetteville.

Last month, the City of Durham and Durham County set aside $9.6 million for similar programs again.

“My concern is that even with that $9 million that’s not enough,” Schewel stated.

However, in the years ahead, can the cities and the counties afford to come pay out of pocket to support families and businesses after the federal money stops?

“I think that we are going to have a faster recovery than we did from the great recession because of the significant assistance from Washington. It’s a game changer,” Schewel said.

“On the other hand, we still will have need. We are going to have to figure out to cover that need,” he mentioned.

Schewel also said he hopes that money from the state will also continue to be used to help people in need.

The Town of Apex also recently launched an assistance program. Wake County continues to offer help too.

Area assistance programs:

Cumberland/Fayetteville program – How to apply for newly launched rental assistance program in Cumberland County

Durham program – Applications now open for Durham program that helps those behind on rent due to pandemic

Apex’s program – COVID-19 Resources

Wake County program – Assistance – Wake County COVID-19 Information

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