Local News

Wake residents have options -- from county, churches -- for help with rent costs

The House Wake program, which covers rent and utility payments for people in Wake County who are struggling financially due to COVID-19, is preparing for a surge of applicants as the eviction moratorium comes to an end July 31.

Posted Updated

By
Matt Talhelm
, WRAL reporter
The House Wake program, which covers rent and utility payments for people in Wake County who are struggling financially due to COVID-19, is preparing for a surge of applicants as the eviction moratorium comes to an end July 31.

"The moratorium that had been placed on evictions and foreclosures really helped to keep a Band-Aid on everything," said Brandon Bell, director of housing and community development for Telamon, the company that administers the House Wake program in a partnership with the county.

The program has committed $14,421,000 for rent and utility payments since opening up the latest application process in March. An earlier, smaller version of the program ran from September 2020 through the end of January 2021. This round of funding will continue to provide assistance into 2022.

Renters who are struggling due to the pandemic can apply to House Wake to cover up to 15 months of rent and utility payments, including back rent.

The number of applicants are:
• 2,189 in March
• 915 in April
• 901 in May
• 1,438 in June

• 356 through July 11

"We’re going to see an even bigger influx of individuals who are rushing to try to make sure they can secure housing and stabilize themselves where they’re at," said Bell.

As the moratorium nears its end, a grassroots community group is also tackling the issue of eviction prevention. Clergy members started meeting at Macedonia New Life church six weeks ago after Pastor Joe Stevenson heard about some neighbors who were evicted from their apartments.

"There is a train of evictions coming, and the train of eviction has no place to take these wonderful people in our community," said Stevenson.

They’re putting together a memorandum of understanding for city and county leaders to consider. It includes a proposal for an eviction prevention model. They’re also asking leaders to coordinate funding between the city and county and take an equitable approach to growth that doesn’t force people out of their homes.

"We know a lot of people are going to be displaced. We cannot help everybody, but we can do the best we can to help as many as we possibly can," said Sonia Barnes, president of North Carolina Black Women Empowerment Network.

The group will hold a community conversation at Macedonia New Life Church on Rock Quarry Road on Monday, July 26, at 7 p.m.