— press release courtesy North Carolina Department of Public Safety
The Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program has announced program changes to accept referrals of tenants from landlords and increase financial awards to North Carolina households that apply for pandemic-related rent and utility assistance. The new guidelines aim to help even more renters get back on their feet while also assisting landlords that have lost income due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Since opening last fall, the HOPE Program has awarded more than $305.5 million to 81,039 households, with $219.2 million already paid to landlords and utility companies statewide.
“We established the HOPE Program to keep low income tenants hit hard by COVID-19 in their homes with the lights on,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “HOPE has already assisted more than 81,000 families, and these program changes will make sure even more people get the help they need while our state recovers.”
Landlords whose tenants are struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic can submit names and contact information using 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.
Additionally, starting Aug. 1, the HOPE Program monthly rent award limit will increase by 30%, which will allow the program to cover approximately 95% of all rent awards requested by tenants. Similarly, the utility award limit will increase by 100%, a change that will cover nearly 90% of all past-due amounts requested by program applicants. The new limits will apply to all new applications received, including applicants reapplying for assistance.
The HOPE Program promotes housing stability by providing rent and utility bill assistance to prevent evictions and the disconnection of utilities. The program currently serves 88 North Carolina counties, with 12 counties and five Native American tribes receiving direct federal funding to operate their own emergency rent and utility programs. A complete list of the counties served by the HOPE Program, county programs and tribal government programs can be found using the online NC HOPE Interactive Map.
Information about the HOPE Program, including eligibility requirements, program benefits and an online application, is available at www.HOPE.NC.gov. Applicants who cannot access the website should call 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467) for help with the application process. The HOPE Call Center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both English- and Spanish-speaking representatives are available to assist callers. Applicants who applied for assistance during the first phase of the HOPE Program are eligible to reapply for additional help.
Funding for the HOPE Program is provided to the state through U.S. Department of Treasury Coronavirus Relief Fund allocations and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021. The HOPE Program is managed by the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency, a division of the Department of Public Safety. To learn more about the HOPE Program, visit www.HOPE.NC.gov.