HOPE Program leaders emphasize resources when dealing with rent issues, possible eviction

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — As July comes to an end, many people are thinking about the next rent payment.

After a year of economic hardship in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the money could be tough for some people to find.

“Due to this pandemic, a lot of families lost jobs and were not able to pay rent or pay for any basic needs,” said Tiffany Askew, executive director of the New Bern Housing Authority.

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The moratorium on evictions expired at the beginning of July, meaning many people are going to have to pay up.

“I think it will affect a lot of people in our community and people all over the country,” said Askew.

Around 206,000 people are behind on rent in North Carolina. Pitt and Onslow County have the highest amount of people behind on rent in Eastern North Carolina. Craven County is third with 2,258 people.

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“I think the resources that are out there if people would just take advantage of those resources, I don’t believe there would be a need for evictions,” said Askew.

She believes people should take advantage of resources like the HOPE Program.

“People who had never needed assistance before suddenly needed assistance,” said Laura Hogshead, COO of the Office of Resiliency and Recovery.

The rental assistance program started in 2020. So far, it has helped over 86,000 households and counting and awarded around $300 million.

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“Having that rental assistance to keep them in their safe house is critical,” said Hogshead. “It helps control the spread of COVID, it helps to get on their feet to find employment.”

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Program leaders say more people are eligible than they think.

“Just apply. Don’t self-screen, don’t assume it’s not for you if you’re having trouble paying rent, go ahead and apply,” said Hogshead.

Program leaders say it typically takes about 14 days to get the money and is a process tenants and landlords can go through together.

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