Rental, utility assistance still available for South Carolinians

Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 5:40 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2022 at 11:08 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - Help is available right now for South Carolinians struggling to pay their rent and utility bills.

But the state’s housing authority and power companies are telling people to not wait and fall too far behind before seeking it.

The federal government has sent hundreds of millions of dollars to South Carolina to prevent people from being evicted or getting their lights shut off if they are having pandemic-related difficulties paying bills.

On a telephone town hall Friday hosted by AARP South Carolina, the state agency in charge of distributing much of that money through the SC Stay Plus program said it is still available.

“As of basically July 22, we’ve helped 46,000 families to stay in their homes and to prevent evictions,” Renaye Long of the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority, also known as SC Housing, said. “That translates into spending $186 million just on those families.”

SC Housing is in control of that money for 39 counties in the state, while seven of the largest counties — Anderson, Berkeley, Charleston, Greenville, Horry, Richland and Spartanburg — received their own portions that they have distributed through their own programs.

South Carolinians seeking this assistance have to fill out an application and submit certain documents to show they need the help.

“This includes personal information such as a driver’s license or passport, proof that you’re obligated to pay rent, which is commonly known as a lease or something to that effect, and proof that your rent is past due, which is typically a summary of what is owed, and proof of income,” Malcolm Clark of the SC Housing Call Center said.

SC Housing said this money can go toward catching up on rent that is up to 12 months past due.

To qualify, households must meet at least one of the following criteria: qualifying for unemployment or having experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19; demonstrating a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability or having a household income at or below 80% of county median income adjusted by family size.

Another program, the South Carolina Homeowner Rescue Program, can help homeowners with mortgage payments.

“Please don’t hesitate if you think you’re in trouble if you’re headed towards trouble,” Long said.

People can apply for assistance and find out what help is available in their county by visiting the SC Housing website or calling 803-336-3420.

Various power and utility companies in South Carolina spoke at the town hall about programs they offer to help their customers, so they recommend anyone interested in learning more reach out to their provider.

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