DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Hundreds of tenants who live in public housing in Durham are behind in rent payments and they could be evicted if they have not applied for rental assistance by mid-February, according to Durham Housing Authority officials.

“We have somewhere in the neighborhood of more than 500 families that are currently behind in their rent, to the tune of about $1 million,” said Anthony Scott, CEO of the Durham Housing Authority.

DHA officials say to avoid 30-day eviction notices set to be delivered on Feb. 28, they are urging all families behind in rent to apply for assistance.

“This is probably the most important issue that we’re dealing with right now,” Scott said.

Scott said they are working hard to get the word out so that more tenants will start applying for the Durham Rent Relief Program, which is administered by Legal Aid of North Carolina with funding from the City of Durham.

The program can help cover past-due, current, and future rent payments.

Scott said families need to apply for rental assistance by Feb. 14.

“Because after that point there’s no guarantee that there will be any available funding because it’s not a lot of money. It’s almost $6 million, which seems like a lot, but there’s a lot of need out there,” Scott said.

DHA officials said they are sending flyers and letters to inform families about the resources that are available.

Scott said the 500 families who have not applied for rental assistance are at risk of being evicted in March.

“So we must have our residents apply because, unfortunately, we’re going to have to move to the point of enforcing our lease,” Scott said. “This is a very avoidable issue, in terms of having to file for eviction. It is imperative that our families actually apply.”

People can apply for Durham Rent Relief online.

DHA’s Housing Stability team is available Monday through Friday to help tenants with getting information on rental assistance. Tenants may call the Housing Stability Team at 1-844-777-3277.