GREENSBORO, N.C. — Issues still surround the North Carolina HOPE program that helps people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and needing money for rent or utility payments.
“We’re months and months into this application process,” said Chrissy Matthews, whose application was approved in December.
She’s still waiting for her utility bills to be paid by the program.
“You have families that are probably cold and facing homelessness because they’re waiting on these funds to come through,” she said.
Matthews and several other FOX8 viewers have reached out worried they may not get the money in time before the eviction moratorium ends on March 31.
“I know if I’m experiencing this then others are bound to be experiencing this too,” Matthews said. “They’re probably facing having their electric cut off or being evicted once these eviction protections run out.”
Matthews told FOX8 she’s dialed 211 which serves HOPE Program applicants several times without getting through to a case manager.
“Once you dial the extension you need you get a recording stating that all associates are busy,” Matthews said. “If you were to dial through to try to get around that to get to a different associate they wouldn’t be able to help you.”
The United Way of North Carolina operates the resource line. President and CEO Laura Marx said the line is receiving more than 2,500 calls each day, that’s around 300 calls every hour. A team of 30 staff members answers the 211 line, which added up to 16,000 calls in February.
Matthews is one of 42,000 applicants approved for the HOPE Program since launched in October. Chief Operating Officer for the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency Laura Hogshead leads the program. She was surprised by the level of need and number of applications.
Hogshead said $139.2 million has been promised to landlords, tenants and utility companies, but only $65.9 million has been paid out.
“We are paying out those awards right now,” Hogshead said. “This is a federal grant and as soon as we get that paperwork we’re processing the payments.”
The delay for the remaining money is because of missing paperwork. Hogshead told FOX8 the tenant and landlord are responsible for submitting accurate paperwork before the money is disbursed.
“I would encourage the applicant to call their landlord in particular and make sure they haven’t missed the e-mail,” Hogshead said. “Please assure your landlord this is the final step to get that payment.”
Hogshead recommends checking e-mail and still using 211 for questions or concerns about the program. Once the paperwork is complete it takes several weeks to process the payment.
Matthews is going to make sure all of her paperwork is in check and hopes the payments are made sooner rather than later.
“I did not think it would take so long or be so hard to get the funds,” she said. “I figured it would be quicker, a faster process considering the situation everyone was in.”
Applications for the HOPE Program are closed.