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Tri-County renters $60 million behind in rent since start of pandemic, Trident United Way estimates

An estimate released by the Trident United Way Thursday says renters in the Tri-County area are...
An estimate released by the Trident United Way Thursday says renters in the Tri-County area are $60 million behind in their rent payments.(Storyblocks)
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 11:02 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - With the most recent extension of a federal eviction moratorium set to expire Saturday, the Trident United Way says evictions are reaching a crisis stage.

An estimate released by the organization Thursday says renters in the Tri-County area are $60 million behind in their rent payments.

Nationally, 11 million Americans are behind on rent, with a total cost of $57 billion.

But in South Carolina, nearly one in four are behind on rent, and the average past-due amount is $3,300, Trident United Way spokesman Brian DeRoy said. The state has the second-highest percentage of people behind in rent in the United States behind Mississippi.

In Charleston County alone, 18% of tenants are behind on rent and owe an average past-due total of $4,175, the data states.

The agency cites data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Charleston Pro Bono and the National Apartment Association in those numbers.

The Biden administration will allow the nationwide ban on evictions to expire, arguing that its hands are tied after the Supreme Court ruled it could only be extended until the end of the month.

Trident United Way recommends tenants who are behind on rent to work with their landlords for some form of payment planning. Past due rent amounts still need to be paid unless both parties reach a settlement.

“Let your landlords know because the landlords are better off because they do get paid and the tenants are better off because they do get to stay in their units,” Trident United Way Public Policy Vice President Jonathan Rauh said.

MORE INFO: Trident United Way Resource Connection Centers

Economic needs will continue throughout 2021 and beyond. Rauh estimates the largest sector in our area: hospitality, is currently employing 10,000 less people than pre-pandemic numbers. Rauh also estimates Tri-County unemployment is nearly 2.5% higher than it was pre-pandemic (4.3% now vs 1.9% in 2019).

The Trident United Way says calls to its 211 Helpline remain high. Tri-County rent assistance referrals have gone up from 21% in May to 27% in June, which is a close second to utility requests which accounted for 29% of June referrals.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Trident United Way has served more than 50,000 families and expects that number to increase as economic challenges continue.

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