The HOPE Program is once again open and accepting applications for rental and utility assistance. To apply, visit hope.nc.gov or call 888-927-5467. This phone number is for the whole state, though the state is only taking applications from 88 counties. If you are in one of the 12 entitlement counties or are a registered member of a tribe who are handling their own assistance programs, you can still call this number and will be connected to the right assistance program.
There are a couple of changes to note between last round and this round. This application round is limited to individuals 50% or below Area Median Income (AMI). In the first round, 91% of applicants fell into that category. In the first round, the HOPE Program received 40,000 applications in three weeks and ultimately awarded 56,000 awards to 36,000 families, totaling about $133M in rental and utility assistance. The first round covered about six months of payments.
This new pot of rental assistance coming from the federal level is about $1.1 billion for the whole state. This is a much bigger program and will cover 12 months of assistance: 9 months in arrears and 3 months of rent. Once a recipient reaches 3 months of rental assistance, they will be able to reapply if they are still having trouble paying your rental assistance.
It is going to be crucial that we get the word out across the state to make sure that folks who are not aware of the program opening become aware and are able to access the program. These payments go directly to landlords and utility companies as before. There was added guidance in Round 2 of the federal rental assistance that asked states to create an avenue for tenants to receive payments directly if the landlord refuses payment. The state has not yet figured out how that mechanism is going to operate, but it may be forthcoming. The only requirements on the part of the landlord is that they not evict the tenant 60 days past what they are being paid for.
You can view additional details about this round of the HOPE Program here. Connect with the folks in need and make sure they are able to access these resources to get these payments flowing. If you have any questions, please reach out. We will continue to provide updates on the program.