Relief for tenants living in hotel-motels during COVID-19

Relief for tenants living in hotel-motels during COVID-19

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Some families have been struggling to keep a roof over their heads during the COVID-19 crisis.

They were facing eviction.

Local agencies like Crisis Assistance Ministry, Mecklenburg County, The United Way and Foundation for the Carolinas stepped in and provided about $200,000 to keep them in place for a week.

About 600 families have been identified for this immediate relief and are spread out at various hotel/motels.

“It took some of the worry and stress,” Tangejula Smith who faced eviction said. “And stuff off of me just for a little bit.”

Smith got the call on Friday that her rent would be taken care of for one week. She says the call came right on time.

“When she called me,” Smith said. “They were putting my stuff out.”

Crisis Assistance Ministry says many families are dealing with this. The pandemic has forced people who are vulnerable not to be able to pay their rent.

“They are low-wage workers,” Crisis Assistance Ministry Chief Marketing Officer Liana Humphrey said. “Some of them may have lost hours or have been furloughed as a result of COVID-19 outbreak.”

Smith is grateful but worries about next week when the money from the agencies runs out. Humphrey hopes that won’t be the case.

“We are meeting with those same agencies to come up with a community solution to this problem,” Humphrey said. “These individuals are technically homeless, but they are between a shelter situation and permanent housing.”

The courts have stopped evictions for people who are living in homes because of COVID-19. Crisis Assistance Ministry wonders what about people how have been living in hotel/motels for a long time - can they get the law to come on their side?

“We’ve brought in our legal aid partners to advise us,” Humphrey said. “And to work directly with families that they can understand what their rights are in this situation.”

Smith hopes things will work out. She has health issues and her partner was recently laid off. She hopes the help will continue until she can get back on her feet.

“Good people have issues,” Smith said. “And they have problems and sometimes we need a little help.”

Officials say this situation has emphasized the need to come up with a long term plan to help this population so they can live a more stable life.

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