RALEIGH − The N.C. Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions Program continues to rank No. 2 in the nation for number of households served and No. 6 for spending of federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program funding.

The latest U.S. Department of the Treasury rankings, which reflect ERA program standings through Aug. 31, note the program has distributed more than $275.9 million or 53% of the first round of ERA funds since May. The HOPE Program, launched May 17, continues to accept applications for financial assistance with rent and utility payments.

“HOPE has helped more than 86,559 households with rent and utilities since May, and we have the funds to help many more,” said N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency Director Laura Hogshead. “If you have experienced a financial setback from COVID, please apply now to HOPE. Don’t wait until you are facing an eviction notice.”

The state as a whole climbed in U.S. Treasury rankings. North Carolina’s collective ERA programs, including the HOPE Program and the 12 entitlement community programs, moved from No. 6 to No. 5 in terms of ERA dollars spent.

“NCORR has established a program that is both fast and federally compliant,” Hogshead said. “That means working to distribute federal aid funds quickly while following the requirements and rules that accompany such federal funding. A major priority for the program is detecting and preventing fraud.”

This week, the HOPE Program also announced a change that will increase the number of months applicants are eligible for emergency rent assistance. HOPE applicants can now receive a total of 15 months of rent assistance – 12 months of past-due rent and three months of future rent. The increase will extend the months of assistance beyond December and help to keep people safe in their homes through the winter months.

HOPE is still accepting applications for rent and utility bill assistance from low-income renters in 88 counties. Applicants can apply online at HOPE.NC.gov or call 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both English- and Spanish-speaking staff are available to assist callers.

The HOPE Program is also accepting landlord referrals of tenants who may be unable to pay rent due to the pandemic. Landlords can submit tenant names and contact information through the HOPE Program website or by contacting the HOPE Call Center at 888-927-5467. A program specialist will contact the tenant to help start the application process.

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