Landlords in the Triad frustrated with NC HOPE Program

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Some landlords in the Piedmont Triad are still waiting for past due rental assistance tied up with the North Carolina HOPE Program. It’s designed to help pay rent or utilities for tenants falling behind because of the coronavirus pandemic.  

“It is devastating, I mean they may lose the house” said Kerri Person, the owner of Rent-A-Home of the Triad. “We need the help now.” 

Person told FOX8 it’s only a matter of time before landlords will have to give up their property because they can’t make the payments.

“I think the landlords have been hit as hard,” she said. “I’m afraid they may have even fallen through the crack.” 

She works with rental property owners across Guilford County who are waiting for money from the statewide program.

“We don’t even have some of our people approved yet,” Person said. “Just now starting to get money from people that were approved in December.”  

Some landlords are going on seven months or longer without a check while bills keep showing up.

“The taxes still need to be paid, the insurance still needs to be paid,” Person said. “The bills go on and what if there’s a repair needed to the house.” 

Mike Hodgin has owned rental properties across Greensboro for 40 years.

“A lot of landlords are just trying to survive,” he said. “I’ve got at least three people, three different houses that have not paid any rent in a year.” 

That’s thousands of dollars in rent payments he expected from tenants. Hodgin told FOX8 he spotted problems with the NC HOPE Program once applications went online. 

“Some of the tenants are not computer savvy or don’t have access to computers,” Hodgin said. “A lot of them do but just don’t know about the program”  

According to NC HOPE Program administrators, more than $139.5 million dollars is awarded to help about 36,500households, but only $76.4 million dollars is paid to landlords or utility providers. 

A NC HOPE Program Spokesperson shared this statement with FOX8: 

“The HOPE Program has recently taken over administration of all remaining applications that were previously managed by community partner agencies. Our team is quickly working through those cases with a high volume of payments going out daily.”

The HOPE Program was designed to provide maximum notice to applicants and landlords so they know they can count on receiving payment. There are regulatory requirements that must be followed when using federal funds. This means that all required documents, including items such as signed Landlord-Tenant Agreements, W-9s, utility bills, etc., must be submitted prior to payments being issued. 

The program hired 184 new staff to help expedite the award process while still meeting those federal requirements. One hundred additional staff will be hired in anticipation of new federal funding for a second phase of the program. Details of the new application period will be announced in the coming weeks.” 

Person told FOX8 more needs to be done to speed up the payment process.

“We have to do what we can to help our neighbors,” she said. “Our neighbors are our landlords too who could be on the brink of financial ruin if they don’t get help.” 

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