Eviction

Shelter distributes $876,000 in eviction relief funds

The Community Shelter of Union County has completed a third round of eviction relief fund distribution to help prevent county renters from losing their homes once the federal eviction moratorium ends.

The federal moratorium has been extended to June 30.  An estimated 10 million American families have fallen behind on their rent.

Under the moratorium, landlords are not permitted to move forward with evictions of “covered persons” due to nonpayment or late payment of rent and similar housing-related payments until after June 30.

The Community Shelter has distributed $876,192.58 in total financial assistance since March 2020 to support 262 county households with 687 individuals. The funding also benefits their landlords who experienced loss of rental income. The average household payment was $2,895.57.

The relief funds fall into three categories – rent payment, utility payments and a combination of both. The latest funds came through the U.S. Department of Treasury and were limited to six months per applicant.

According to Melissa McKeown, chief executive officer for the Community Shelter, “Many residents in Union County have been out of work for more than a year or have seen their work hours cut to the point that they cannot pay their bills. Without financial assistance, their past due rent would continue to accumulate, despite the moratorium.

“Imagine trying to pay four months of back rent, at $700 a month for example, when your total monthly income of $1,255 barely covers your current month’s bills,” McKeown said. North Carolina’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour equals $1,255 a month when averaged over 12 months.

Liz Casana, eviction prevention case manager at the Shelter, worked with both renters and landlords and explains that the process is not simple but that both tenants and landlords were very grateful.

One tenant said in an email, “I want to say thank you for all you have done for me and my family. It is a blessing to have an angel here on earth that took time to hear us, have patience with us and work tirelessly to make things all right for us and so many others.”

Another wrote, “I have not really had to ask for help like this before and you helped me through this experience without me feeling low to do it! God bless you!”

Applicants called 211 to apply for the program and were referred to the Community Shelter. They provided a copy of their lease, certification of Covid impact and other documentation, Casana said. She then contacted landlords to confirm how much was owed and from what time period.

To be eligible for payment, landlords had to complete a federally mandated agreement. Although most landlords did sign the document, some declined.

“Most landlords were very grateful. They had heard about potential funding but were surprised that they would receive any,” Casana said.

“By providing funds to keep rent payments up to date, we’re helping not only the households, but also the local landlords,” McKeown said. “Most of our landlords are small to medium business owners, and they have been without rental income for months, too. It’s a big benefit to be able to support the local economy.

“Most of the tenants that needed help were truly people who had always paid their rent and their current situation is directly from losing income from Covid. Most of the landlords said absolutely, we want to keep these tenants. They’ve been good tenants.”

The Community Shelter been providing eviction prevention support since March 2020. The funds were reimbursement based, meaning the Shelter paid the bills, then submitted for reimbursement. “We promised landlords payment within two weeks, but usually it was much quicker,” McKeown said.

The criteria for eviction relief were established by the grantors, not the Community Shelter, and current grants do not affect mortgages or homeowners.

“The funding is very specific and totally Covid eviction-oriented; it cannot be used for ongoing Community Shelter operations,” McKeown said.

 

The Community Shelter of Union County provides emergency shelter, food and rehousing to Union County residents experiencing hunger and homelessness. For more information, visit www.UnionShelter.org or call 704.289.5300.

© Union County Community Shelter | 160 Meadow Street, Monroe, NC 28110 | (704) 289-5300