NC sets aside $175M in pandemic relief funds for rent, utility assistance

Posted August 25, 2020 1:28 p.m. EDT
Updated August 25, 2020 1:31 p.m. EDT

Eviction notice

— Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday earmarked $175 million in coronavirus pandemic relief funds to help North Carolinians with rental and utility payments.

"COVID-19 has strained family finances across North Carolina, and many people are struggling to make ends meet," Cooper said in a statement. "People need a safe, stable place to call home, especially during this pandemic, and we must help keep people in their homes and keep their utilities on while our economy recovers."

The money will be split into three pots as follows:

  • $94 million for eviction prevention and utility payments. The North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency will distribute the money to community agencies around the state that will work directly with people in need on applying for and receiving the aid. The money includes $66 million in CARES Act funds and $28 million from federal Community Development Block Grant – Coronavirus funding.
  • $53 million for crisis response and housing stability. The federal Emergency Solutions Grant-Coronavirus Program, run through the state Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to help homeless families or those who face a more immediate risk of homelessness. The money will be distributed through the same community agencies as the eviction prevention fund, allowing people to apply once and get aid from the appropriate fund.

“Families in crisis don’t have time to spare, and our state agencies are coordinating a plan to make it easier for people to get the support they need,” Cooper said.

  • $28 million for local government support. The Community Development Block Grant – Coronavirus funding will be administered by the state Department of Commerce and helps municipalities with fewer than 50,000 residents and counties with fewer than 200,000 residents help their residents pay rent and outstanding utility bills. The money also may be used to provide support for internet access, food distribution, coronavirus testing and diagnosis and employment training for health care workers.

Cooper barred utility shutoffs through the end of July as people struggled financially during the pandemic. Many sheriff's offices also halted serving eviction notices for several months for the same reason.

Many utilities are now setting up payment plans to help residents pay off their bills over several months.