Man facing eviction despite accepted application for rental assistance

“At this point I feel like I’ve been scammed,” the person said.
Research led him to SC Housing’s rental assistance program called SC Stay Plus.
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 6:55 PM EDT
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INDIAN LAND, S.C. (WBTV) - For weeks, WBTV has been telling you about the sticker shock of people struggling to pay rent in the Carolinas. A viewer reached out to WBTV about South Carolina promising financial assistance and then, not giving it to him.

Now, he is left scrambling to figure out what to do as he faces eviction.

This has been going on for fourth months now so WBTV tried talking to SC Housing to find out why there is even a hold up to begin with.

”At this point I feel like I’ve been scammed,” the person said, who has asked to remain anonymous because of the situation.

This person packs away what is left of his almost empty apartment. He is facing eviction.

”I lost my job. Thankfully I was able to hold up my rent for a few months,” he said. “The leasing office told me there were programs that offered assistance.”

Research led him to SC Housing’s rental assistance program called SC Stay Plus.

He says he applied in April, got approved the same month and was set to get four months’ worth of rent—about $10,000. His utilities got paid by the program, but his rent did not.

”I’ve always been the type of person to pay my bills,” he said. “I’ve never faced eviction before. Just do to my unfortunate circumstance of me losing my job and then having to wait for SC Stay this is the situation I’m in.”

His call logs and emails show he is not just been sitting around and waiting, but any communication with SC Housing over the last three months still leaves him empty handed.

”It’s unfortunate. It’s nerve-wracking but unfortunately this is my reality,” he said.

To get some answers, WBTV reached out to Renaye Long with SC Housing. She told me upfront she could not discuss the specifics of this case.

I asked how the situation could have reached this point. She answered saying all situations are so individualized it is hard to say exactly what could have gone wrong.

However, some of the reasons things could go wrong include the check being late, the person not having all of the updated information in the portal or an application being reviewed.

”That’s a generic question that I cannot answer in a generic way but I can say there is some support so they don’t just have to rely on the call center,” Long said.

There were not a lot of answers to our questions about this situation as a whole. Our anonymous renter says both he and the property managers have reached out several times to rectify the situation.

WBTV asked why someone would have to reach out multiple times to get their claims heard and also was it concerning that someone was facing eviction despite being an accepted applicant. Long answered those questions by pointing back to the many resources they have to help people who are having trouble.

WBTV also asked her when payments are supposed to go out.

The answer was 45 days.

SC Housing attempts to send the landlords or property management company the money first so that everything can be handled. There are electronic and paper check options. If the landlord does not want the money from SC Housing, the agency sends it directly to the tenants instead so they can pay for rent themselves.

The supports Long mentioned include in-person meetings in your county’s SC Housing center and case management teams that deal with applicants one-on-one. The call center is also accessible with hours until 9 p.m. so that people can have a better chance to catch up with someone even after work.

She also says that supervisors check certain calls to make sure the quality of work is still up to par and applicants needs are getting addressed. They have also expanded their call center to help more people. The agency also hosts pop-ups throughout the state with resources to help people.

There are also tips people can use to help their situation:

  • Tenants are encouraged to work together with their landlords to complete their SC Stay Plus application process
  • SC Stay Plus program staff works diligent to keep both landlords (and tenants) informed about the status of their application as they go through the review process. While the program has a strong outreach component to both parties, applicants should also keep their landlord informed throughout the process.
  • Tenants with questions about their application can always call the call center at 803-336-3420, M-F, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. for assistance. Representatives are trained to give status updates, clarify program information, and provide general assistance to help the caller complete their application. Call center staff can also provide updates on the status of payment.
  • Tenants can also receive help in-person at SC Stay Plus In- Person Applicant Support Centers in their local communities.
  • Spanish-language support is available at the call center and designated in-person applicant support centers in the community.
  • Applicants can also check the status of their application online. The SC Stay Plus Application Portal includes a “Check Application Status” feature to provide tenants with updated information on their application. This page includes an overview of the different application statuses (with definitions) to help applicants better understand where they are in the process. This page also can provide confirmation on the documents that have been uploaded to the portal.

”Helping people stay in the homes they have is very very important. It’s important for them. It’s important for the children in forms of continuity. We understand the benefits,” Long said.

She says they are constantly changing how they serve their applicants by listening to feedback—both good and bad.

And as for the anonymous renter, WBTV is told he will get some help from SC Housing for his situation.

“Those are the process improvements that we’re making so applicants can feel supported,” she said. “I want to connect this person with the staff so they can talk with him or her specifically about their situation.”

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