The local organization providing utilities, rents and mortgages in Mecklenburg County says the number of people seeking help continues to rise, but there is no risk of running out of money. money, at least in the new year.
The Rent and Mortgage Assistance Program, also called CLT RAMP, is funded by federal COVID-19 relief dollars administered by the City of Charlotte and County of Mecklenburg. The program is overseen by DreamKey Partners, formerly known as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership.
So far, the organization has sent more than $ 26 million to approximately 6,700 households in Mecklenburg County. In total, the organization had so far received around 17,000 requests for assistance during the pandemic. Approximately 12,000 have been approved and the remaining 5,000 applications are being processed.
Erin Barbee, senior vice president of programs and fund development at Dreamkey Partners, said the organization still has around $ 11.3 million to disperse, with an additional $ 55 million to come from the city and county. .
“At the end of the day, we strongly believe that we will be able to help people until 2022,” said Barbee.
This takes into account what RAMP CLT expects September to be loaded.
Already, the program saw a spike in new applications in August. Typically, RAMP CLT received between 1,000 and 2,000 requests per month, Barbee said, but that number rose to nearly 3,000 in August.
Barbee said the increase came as many believed the moratorium on evictions would expire on July 31, before President Biden extended it at the last moment.
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned the extension, Barbee says the organization will likely see another wave of tenant requests in the hope of avoiding possible evictions.
“And we’re prepared for it, aren’t we? We’re putting extra resources into it and making sure we have extra staff,” said Barbee.
The organization also connects tenants and landlords with legal aid and other resources through the North Carolina Department of Crisis Assistance and Legal Aid.
Barbee said the RAMP CLT program has a team of 30 staff who already plan to work some evenings and weekends to ensure funds are distributed as quickly as possible.
She said most requests for help in Mecklenburg County appeared legitimate and that of the 17,000 requests sent to date, fewer than 100 were suspected by the organization to be fraudulent.
The program is open to all tenants or landlords in Mecklenburg County who have recently lost their jobs or otherwise lost income due to COVID-19 and whose household income is equal to or less than 80% of the median household income. region.
Eligible tenants can receive up to 18 months of assistance. Tenants who have received an eviction notice and have upcoming hearing dates are given priority.