While state staffs up to distribute aid to struggling families, Good Samaritans step into the gap
Posted November 18, 2020 4:53 p.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2020 5:59 p.m. EST
Selma, N.C. — The demand is so great for help with utilities and housing bills that North Carolina needs to hire additional people to process requests.
The NC HOPE (Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions) Program stopped taking applications last week, after receiving information from 43,433 eligible families. But so far, only 1,100 families have gotten payments.
Haley Pfeiffer Haynes, of the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency, says it's no surprise to hear about a Selma woman waiting close to a month for benefits to come through.
"Unfortunately, the demand is so high," she said.
Pfeiffer Haynes says 27 community partners are working to verify incomes and contact landlords, who must agree to accept the state funds.
"We want this money to get out," she said. "This is not something we are trying to hold on to.”
That is little comfort to the 42,333 families waiting while their bills continue to pile up.
A Selma woman, who did not want to be identified, told WRAL News last week that her power had been disconnected twice while she waits, despite written proof she's eligible for HOPE relief.
The lights are on and Christmas presents sit under a new tree inside her home, thanks not to the state but to the kindness of strangers.
Kenny and Decie Carraway are among about two dozen people who chipped in to make power payments and send gifts cards and cash after seeing the story on WRAL News.
"It was kind of like a no-brainer. We were glad that we were able to do something to help,” Decie Carraway said.
They’re hoping their generosity inspires people to pay it forward. “Sometimes you need an angel," Decie Carraway said. "We all do every now and then.”
The mother of two young children said, "I’m just really grateful for the help and to know that are still people out here with a good heart.”
Pfeiffer Haynes said the state is planning to hire 125 people to process NC HOPE applications more quickly.
Anyone who received a letter from the NC HOPE program showing eligibility is guaranteed payments once their application is fully processed.