RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – One year after its rollout, there are changes coming to a COVID-19 financial assistance program. it provides support to tenants, landlords, and utility companies to cover portions of rent or utility shortfalls due to the pandemic.
Those in charge of the House Wake Program say they’re trying to simplify how people can apply for assistance.
Although the program has distributed millions to those affected by the pandemic, it says there have been challenges in getting people to properly apply for the funds.
Both Raleigh and Wake County are providing $90 million in federal funds to the House Wake Program. To date, $20 million have been expended with another $1.6 million obligated for payment.
Currently, Telamon, the third-party vendor overseeing the program said 2,376 households have been approved for assistance. Funding for the program expires in September 2025.
CBS 17 first reported about House Wake back in July when he intervened for a woman who had applied for the funds four months earlier but whose landlord hadn’t received any payments from the program.
“They said in the beginning of June they’d have money to my landlord within 7 days,” said Nancy Powell.
The day CBS 17 inquired about her case, the county was able to make sure her landlord got her funds. At the time, Wake County said its third-party vendor was having problems with people submitting the proper documentation in a timely manner.
That’s still the case.
The county said 43 percent of current applications can’t move forward because they are missing required documentation. Now, the program wants to make that easier.
Applicants can now self-attest to their financial hardships by swearing under oath their information is true.
“What we want to happen is to cut down the typical 30-40 days time from start to finish to 10-15 days,” said Telamon Housing Director Brandon Bell.
Approved applicants are also eligible for 18 months of financial support dating back to April 2020.
Landlords will now be able to receive payments in bulk instead of on a month-to-month basis.
“One of the things we are doing is making the arrearage along with prospective rent payments all together in one payment,” said Bell. “We’re hoping that cuts down on the paperwork and documentation that our accounts payable department has to deal with.”
Starting Sept. 21, the county will add an online portal system to help applicants and landlords upload necessary documentation and track their applications.