30,000+ applied for rental relief in Charlotte with eviction moratorium ending soon

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 7:25 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Ashley Boyd was new to Charlotte at the start of the pandemic and was struggling to pay for the hotel where she was living in.

“At that moment I was facing eviction,” Boyd said.

She eventually moved into the Green Rock Estates with her four kids but was having trouble paying the rent there too without a full-time job.

“I got months behind and they were trying to work with me so I didn’t have to face another eviction back to back,” Boyd said.

Eventually, she applied for rental assistance with Crisis Assistance Ministry in Charlotte, and when she was approved, the money went to the landlord to pay off her back rent.

“If it wasn’t for Crisis Assistance, then I probably would be back in another shelter,” Boyd said.

There have been thousands of people in Charlotte in Boyd’s shoes and new data obtained by WBTV shows just how widespread the impending eviction problem is. But even that is probably just a small piece of the puzzle.

“It’s hard to put a number on how many people owe back rent, and exactly how much they owe,” Crisis Assistance Ministry’s Liana Humphrey said.

Humphrey said since the pandemic struck the organization is having to up the ante to keep people from facing eviction.

“Prior to COVID, it would take approximately $400 to resolve someone’s financial emergency. That number has been creeping up and is often three times that today,” Humphrey said.

Crisis Assistance isn’t alone in providing aid.

Locally, the biggest flood of money coming to help people facing eviction has come from the federal government and distributed by the City of Charlotte’s RAMP Program.

“I would say that the RAMP, rental assistance and mortgage assistance and utility assistance has been extremely successful,” Charlotte’s Housing and Neighborhood Services Department Director Pam Wideman said.

Since April of 2020, the city has allocated $44.2 million to rental, mortgage and utility relief and helped 11,400 households.

But Wideman said nearly 31,795 households have applied with the majority of those denied because they didn’t provide the right documentation, weren’t facing a Covid impact or they already received assistance.

The City also launched another program to help mediate between landlords and tenants but out of more than 2,000 calls, only 75 mediations were completed.

“We can’t force it, and so you have to have both a willing landlord and a willing tenant in order to engage in the mediation,” Wideman said.

There’s still about $12.5 million in rental and utility assistance left for the RAMP program and Wideman said she’s confident city council will allocate more funds after new money is received from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan.

With North Carolina’s eviction moratorium set to expire June 30th, the question is how many people will need help and how much.

“Certainly the need has grown in terms of the dollars that are needed to help someone prevent eviction, and we’ll just kind of have to wait and see when the moratorium expires,” Humphrey said.

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