Rental assistance programs inundated with calls as federal moratorium on evictions expires

VIDEO: Rental assistance programs inundated with calls as federal moratorium on evictions expires

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Rental assistance programs are being inundated with phone calls for help as the federal moratorium on evictions expires Friday.

Officials with ShelterNet, an emergency financial assistance program serving families in crisis in the tri-county area, said their phones have been ringing off their hooks with people needing help.

The program works to stop evictions, foreclosures, and disconnections by providing monetary assistance with past-due utility, mortgage, and rental payments.

“Since the onset of COVID-19, our staff has been inundated with calls for help from across the tri-county. As the federal moratorium comes to an end, the calls we have received for rental assistance have increased tenfold, especially in Charleston County,” Community Outreach Counselor Reagan Smith said.

According to a survey by Stout, there is widespread and growing concern about housing insecurity.

Nationally from June to July, the share of renters who are either “very” or “extremely” concerned about being evicted rose from 18 percent to over 21.”

Stout’s study estimates 273,000 South Carolinians are unable to pay their rent next month.

“A lot of families are quickly realizing that homelessness is a reality for them and these aren’t just food and beverage employees. They are the assistant teachers and the bus drivers that took your children to school everyday. It’s your hair stylist and the person that use to do your oil change. The backbone of our society are really the people being hit the hardest,” Smith said. “The biggest concern we are seeing, especially with people who have never been in this situation before, is they don’t know where to go for resources, and they don’t know what’s available to them. And that fear can really lead them to a lot of bad places.”

Since April, the Humanities Foundation’s ShelterNet program has assisted with 78 past-due rental payments and stopped 98 utility disconnections. It also has 33 pending applications.

Community members can learn more about applying for assistance by calling the Humanities Foundation, at (843) 284-5109.

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