Job loss, reduced work hours and illness related to COVID-19 have caused many households in Wake County to struggle to make rent. To help them catch up on late payments and avoid eviction, the county today launched the House Wake! COVID-19 Eviction Prevention Program.
“Eviction is a harsh reality that many in our community are facing right now due to no fault of their own,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Greg Ford. “Through this new program, we can mediate relationships with landlords and help more than 3,000 households remain in their homes.”
The House Wake! COVID-19 Eviction Prevention Program consists of a three-step process:
- Eviction Prevention
Through a partnership with the Telamon Corporation, the county will help tenants and landlords cover rent shortfalls, resulting from a loss of income due to COVID-19.
- Eviction Mediation Services
Through a partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina, the county will provide free legal support for tenants who need legal counsel for mediation services or to negotiate filed evictions with landlords; and
- Relocation Assistance
The county will help relocate residents whose housing situation could not be stabilized through steps 1 or 2.
“The National Eviction Moratorium protects tenants unable to pay rent due to COVID 19 from becoming homeless. Although this moratorium protects them until the end of the year, we need to start helping our residents now,” said Edward Barberio, Wake County Housing Affordability & Community Revitalization Deputy Director “We’re launching this program today, so we can avoid a large wave of evictions in January 2021.”
In step one of the program, House Wake! will pay up to 50% of approved tenants’ back rent owed from March through December 2020. In return, the landlords must agree to forgive the remaining 50% owed in 2020 and offer to discount rent by 25% for January through March 2021. Tenants who cannot reach an agreement with their landlords in step one will be referred to step two in the program.
As the program administrator for step 1, the Telamon Corporation will process applications, coordinate in-take of perspective clients and facilitate payments to the landlords. None of the $17 million in federal CARES Act funding that supports the program will go directly to the tenants.
To qualify for assistance, applicants must:
- Be a renter legally residing in Wake County;
- Have a legally binding North Carolina lease that covers the assistance period;
- Demonstrate that they have suffered financially from COVID-19; and
- Not receive any other forms of rental assistance such as Housing Choice Vouchers, Section 8 or senior housing subsidies.
While there are no income requirements, priority will be given to residents with an income that does not exceed 80% of area median income (AMI) at the end of 2019 or pre-COVID-19.
Residents can visit wakegov.com/housing or call 919-899-9911 to learn more and apply.
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