The N.C. Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program has distributed more than $342 million in rent and utility payment to 96,944 North Carolina households since opening last fall. The HOPE Program now ranks #2 in the nation for number of households served and North Carolina ranks #6 for spending of federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program money, which is funding the current phase of the program. The HOPE Program supports housing stability during the pandemic by preventing evictions and utility service disconnections.
“HOPE has kept nearly 97,000 North Carolina families safe in their homes with the lights on during the pandemic,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “But many people are still struggling financially because of COVID-19, and I encourage those who need help to apply now.”
For some HOPE applicants, assistance came just in time. Randolph County resident Paul Sanders works in the wedding industry, which was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. When business slowed down it was difficult to pay the bills. “It was a really big burden lifted off of us when HOPE stepped in,” said Sanders. “I don’t know what I would have done otherwise because even going back to work full-time, if you’re that far behind it’s hard to ever get caught up. HOPE literally saved us.
HOPE is still accepting applications for rent and utility bill assistance from low-income renters in 88 counties. Applicants can apply online at HOPE.NC.gov or call 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both English- and Spanish-speaking representatives are available to assist callers.
Earlier this month, the HOPE Program began accepting landlord referrals of tenants struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic. Landlords may submit tenant names and contact information through the HOPE Program website or by contacting the HOPE Call Center at 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467). A program specialist will then follow up with the tenant to help start the application process.
On Aug. 3, 2021 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new residential eviction moratorium which provides protection from eviction through Oct. 3, 2021 for renters in U.S. counties experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission of COVID-19. All North Carolina counties currently meet that criteria, which means that renters statewide are protected by the new moratorium. The status of any county is subject to change in the future depending on COVID-19 transmission levels.
Tenants who are concerned about eviction can find detailed information at the CDC website, including a copy of the declaration form. Tenants should provide a completed and signed copy of the form to their landlord to receive protection from eviction. Additional resources are available online through Legal Aid of North Carolina and the HUD Rental Housing Counseling and Eviction Prevention Program, which includes contact information for local housing counselors.