RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – The federal government extended a ban against evictions for most renters for the next two months. Meanwhile, there are still hundreds of millions of dollars available to help renters in North Carolina.

The new moratorium only protects against renters in CDC-defined areas with high COVID-19 spread, which includes all but four North Carolina counties.

State leaders said now is a critical time for landlords and tenants to apply to state and local emergency rental assistance programs for the money they need.

“We will waste this time if we do not use it,” said U.S. Rep. David Price (NC-4). “What we’ve got to do really is get people back on their feet.”

Furthermore, the state has hundreds of millions left in the emergency rental assistance HOPE Program, which operates in 88 counties.

“From two different allocations from the US treasury, we have $800 million,” Laura Hogshead said, the director at the Office of Recovery and Resiliency in North Carolina. “And so that is to be expected over the next couple of years. right now we have in our hands the first $400 million and we’re focused on getting that out the door to and protecting as many people as we can.”

The HOPE Program is now accepting tenant referrals from landlords. Landlords may submit their tenant’s name and contact information using an online form, or by contacting the HOPE Program call center to request that the HOPE Program follows up with their renter to help start the application process for assistance.

“Landlords need to be made whole, also,” N.C. Rep. Garland Pierce said. “I get a lot of mom and pop organizations with 10 to 15 pieces of property that have not received the funds they should receive.”

Larger counties, like Wake, have their own rental assistance programs.

Between Wake County and the city of Raleigh, there is more than $80 million left.

Housing expert Jesse McCoy with Duke’s Civil Justice Clinic said he believes so much money is left because, in part, it can be a confusing and long process for some.

“I think the problem comes in because there are a lot of cumbersome processes that people have to do, such as, like, your paperwork has to be in order in case someone gets audited later on. And that paperwork sometimes is difficult for people to come about getting,” McCoy said.

For both renters and landlords, free applications are online. Applicants need paperwork proof of income and how the pandemic has made it hard to pay rent.

“What we don’t want to do is evict people who would otherwise qualify for the rental assistance funds and be able to have their situations rectified,” McCoy said.

In order to qualify for the HOPE Program, you need to be a renter, living in one of the 88 counties the program serves, earn less than 80 percent of the area median income, and be financially impacted by COVID-19.

For more, call the HOPE Program at 1-800-927-5467.