As moratorium on evictions ends, Guilford County advocacy group pushing for housing relief funding

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — A Guilford County advocacy group, Guilford For All, is rallying renters and homeowners to ask for relief from the Board of Commissioners.

As of Thursday, more than 250 people signed a letter of support for “One Third for Housing,” hoping commissioners will allocate more than $30 million for rent and mortgage assistance.

“We’re being asked to spend at least a third of our income on housing, we should have at least a third of our money from our tax dollars towards renting and housing relief for people who are worried about being put out on the street during a time where it’s actually unsafe to be outside,” Jess St. Louis said.

Commissioners are discussing a spending plan for funds from the CARES Act, deciding how to spend about $93 million. During a work session last week, commissioners discussed a proposed $5 million for Community Lifeline Support.

Commissioner Alan Branson said Thursday that they want to help people get relief, but explained the county has to make sure they spend the money according to CARES Act guidelines.

As a 10-week moratorium on eviction notices from the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office comes to end, St. Louis said she worries about people who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think that we’re going to see a crisis around eviction and around homelessness, and I just worry for the safety and well-being of all of our residents,” she said.

Theresa Riley is one of those residents. She lost both her jobs in mid-March, hasn’t been able to secure unemployment benefits, and is still waiting on a stimulus check.

“Since I’m not bringing anything in, it is so tight,” she said. “Some days where I don’t eat, because I just don’t have anything to eat, but I do still have shelter.”

She isn’t one of the 62 people who will be served eviction notices starting May 29, but said if her circumstances don’t change, she could lose her housing.

 “I don’t wanna see myself in a homeless shelter, or none of that, but it might be coming to it,” Riley said. “That really hurts my heart, because I was a hard-working taxpaying citizen.”

A county spokesperson said Thursday that administrators were discussing CARES Act funding. Branson said discussion about spending would continue at a scheduled June 4 meeting.

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