RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that landlords can start evicting renters who can’t pay rent. They have put an end to the nationwide eviction moratorium.
That’s put North Carolina families at risk of losing their homes but there is still help available.
Before the pandemic, Paul Sanders was a partner for two wedding businesses.
“With the sanctions that we put in on the number of people and everything, basically my business evaporated,” Sanders said.
It meant he had no source of income and no way to pay his rent.
“I didn’t have anywhere to turn. I had a good landlord. He understood what was going on, but regardless of how good somebody can be, business is business,” Sanders said.
A friend told him about North Carolina’s HOPE program. It paid nine months of his back rent, plus three more months.
“The eviction moratorium protected tenants for a period of time. But it did not mean that the rent wasn’t still coming due. So tenants are still on the hook for all of that rent,” said Laura hogshead, director of the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency.
So far, the state program’s handed out thousands of checks totaling $282 million. There is still more than $500 million up for grabs for applicants.
“People should not hesitate. They should go ahead and fill out the application so we can get the check to your landlord and relieve you of this worry,” Hogshead said.
The HOPE program pays back rent and future rents along with utilities. To qualify, your circumstances must be related to COVID-19. Money goes straight to the landlord or utility company. Hogshead said they’ll typically get it within 20 days after your application is approved.
“Every week we get more and more higher volumes of applications and calls and we know that that will go up now that the moratorium is over,” Hogshead said.
The program will run until the money runs out.
“It helped my self-esteem. It helped my mental health. It got me back on track,” said Sanders.
Sanders is now working as a substance abuse counselor and encouraged people to ask for help if they’re having trouble making ends meet.
“I’m not going to be ashamed of asking for help when I needed it. Thank god for that HOPE program,” he said.