Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — The application period for the Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program will close at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 17, with available federal funding committed to applications currently in-process and those expected in the week ahead.

Since opening in October 2020, HOPE has promoted housing stability during the pandemic by providing rent and utility assistance to North Carolina families financially impacted by COVID-19. To date, the program has awarded $744 million to help 148,939 households. Of that amount, $585 million has already been paid directly to landlords and utility companies statewide.

The U.S. Department of Treasury recently ranked the HOPE Program as No. 3 in the nation for number of households served, while North Carolina overall ranked No. 6 for the spending of federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) money. Several other states have also announced closure of their ERA programs, including Texas and Oregon. Due to a substantial increase in applications since the Thanksgiving holiday, the HOPE Program now expects to exhaust funds in the coming weeks and is closing intake to ensure that eligible applications received by the deadline will be awarded financial assistance.

“The HOPE Program has worked diligently to reach as many applicants as possible and has been watching the application volume carefully,” said Director Laura Hogshead of the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency, which administers the HOPE Program. “We’ve seen a substantial increase in applications since the Thanksgiving holiday. As a result, the application period is closing sooner than expected to ensure eligible applicants who apply by the deadline will get the help they need.”

Renters experiencing financial hardship in the 88 counties served by HOPE are encouraged to apply at www.HOPE.NC.gov or by calling 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467) by this Friday, December 17. HOPE applications already under review and new applications submitted by the deadline will be processed, with awards to be paid on behalf of eligible applicants.

The closing of the HOPE Program’s application period does not impact federally funded local rent and utility assistance programs. In addition to HOPE, 12 counties and five Native American tribes received direct federal funding to operate their own emergency rent and utility programs. While the HOPE Program’s funding is projected to run out soon, local and tribal programs may still be accepting applications beyond December 17. The HOPE Interactive Map provides a list of counties served by HOPE, local government programs and tribal government programs.

Detailed information about the HOPE Program, including eligibility requirements, program benefits and an online application, is available at www.HOPE.NC.gov. Applicants who cannot access the website should call 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467) for help with the application process. The HOPE Call Center will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, December 17. Both English- and Spanish-speaking representatives are available to assist callers.

Landlords whose tenants are struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic can also submit names and contact information using the HOPE Program website or by contacting the HOPE Call Center at 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467). A program specialist will then follow up with the tenant to help start the application process.

Funding for the HOPE Program is provided to the state through U.S. Department of Treasury Coronavirus Relief Fund allocations and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The HOPE Program is managed by the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency, a division of the Department of Public Safety. To learn more about the HOPE Program, visit www.HOPE.NC.gov.

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