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Wake families living in hotels may qualify for financial assistance

Posted April 5, 2020 1:32 p.m. EDT
Updated April 5, 2020 6:12 p.m. EDT

Starting Monday, Wake County families living in hotels may be eligible for new financial assistance to pay for housing.

The program Wake Prevent has been around since October, helping 100 households a month cover the cost of housing. Recently, the pandemic has increased the need for housing assistance, especially for those who live in hotels.

"They're just folks who are paying day by day or week by week or month by month in a hotel, so if they don't pay it, they are going to have to leave," said Wake County Housing Department Director Lorena McDowell. "And that is not good for them, it's not good for our community."

To help those families, Wake Prevent will now provide financial assistance for people living in hotels starting Monday.

"We've now expanded Wake Prevent to cover folks who are living in hotels," McDowell said. "So instead of only paying to move them out, we're paying for the hotel fee so that they can also now shelter in place."

People qualify for financial assistance if they live in a hotel, lost income due to COVID-19 and have children who are younger than school age or who are enrolled in WCPSS or a local charter school.

For people who live in hotels but don't qualify for help with Wake Prevent, the North Carolina Department of Justice is stepping up. The DOJ sent a letter nearly 100 hotels and motels across the state after being notified that those businesses may be threatening to evict residents.

Among its other details, the letter read, "We write to inform you that evicting these individuals without a court order may constitute violations of North Carolina’s landlord-tenant and consumer protection laws."

While county officials don't know when life will return to normal, they said they will do everything possible to protect their residents in the meantime.

For more information about the program and to learn more about Wake Prevent eligibility, families can call 919-856-5661 or email covid19.housing.hotelfamilies@wakegov.com.

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