Some NC rent relief recipients have no ‘HOPE’ of using money

By Nate Morabito
December 10, 2020

A North Carolina program is helping 3,000 families pay their rent and utilities, but some landlords are failing to accept the government help.

North Carolina reports its Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program has paid out more than $9.16 million in rental assistance so far but not all landlords are willing to take the money.

“I couldn’t believe it, because it’s free money,” a Charlotte renter, who asked us to protect his identity for fear of retaliation, said after his apartment complex told him the company wasn’t accepting HOPE money. “I’m not the only one going through this.”

The North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency estimates more than 2,500 landlords have agreed to participate in the HOPE program, but the agency said the state doesn’t know how many are opting out.

Participating landlords that accept HOPE funds must agree to stop and dismiss any eviction proceedings, not evict the renter for the remainder of the lease, not increase rent or add new fees and maintain a safe home.

“I think that some landlords are not wanting to accept the money even though it would be helpful, because they don’t want to agree to let the tenant stay for longer than they would have to otherwise,” Isaac Sturgill with Legal Aid of North Carolina said.

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This story was produced by the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, a partnership of six media companies working together in an effort started by the Solutions Journalism Network and funded by The Knight Foundation.