Anna Eskridge Charleston Counties Community Development Program Manager stated, “I don’t think there’s a problem, there’s just a lot of funding.” , in reference to the $12.4 million Charleston County received from the Federal Government to aid in prevention of evictions and utility shut offs. Charleston is one of seven counties in South Carolina that are large enough to receive these funds directly from the Federal Government. It will also receive another $10 million for the same program. Currently, it has only applied approximately $3 million to aid in avoidance of evictions and utility shut offs.
SC Housing has received $271.8 million to aid 39 counties to prevent evictions and utility shut offs, but has been very slow to distribute the funds. SC Housing began taking applications back in May of 2021 and has only processed the first 5000. But yet still no money has been applied for these applicants to avoid evictions or utility shut offs.
The process for applying for this assistance has been made in such a manner that it becomes difficult to complete and get approved. Applicants must show their income, Covid-19 Impact, Household members, Income, Lease, Utilities, Prior and Current Rental Assistance and Certify the Application.
These funds are paid directly to the Home Owner and the Utility Companies. There is even a page for Landlords to refer their tenants to apply for the assistance.
In order to be approved you must meet these criterias:
- The household must be obligated to pay rent on a residential dwelling, AND
- One or more members of the household can demonstrate risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, AND
- The total household income is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income as defined by the Federal Government, AND
- One or more members of the household must meet one (1) of the following:
- a. Qualified for unemployment benefits, or
- b. Experienced a reduction in household income, or
- c. Incurred significant costs, or
- d. Experienced other financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
What does the program provide:
SC Stay Plus will pay up to twelve (12) months of back rent (also known as arrearages), to the extent that funds are available. Rent arrears through March 13, 2020 will be paid first, with up to three (3) months of future rental assistance available (through December of 2021) if the renter is at risk of experiencing homelessness.
SC Stay Plus additionally covers:
- Rental or utility security deposits, moving expenses, rental fees, and/or application or screening fees if a household has been temporarily or permanently displaced due to COVID-19
- Reasonable accrued late fees, if not already incurred as part of rental or utility arrears and if incurred due to COVID-19
There are several other requirements for this program one is that the landlord agrees to participate in it. The back rent is only good beginning from March 13, 2020 to twelve months.
We must also understand that the longer this money sits the more interest it develops for the account. A good question to ask is who collects the interest on this money?
Renters who are seeking assistance in the following counties should contact those counties directly: Anderson, Berkeley, Charleston, Greenville, Horry, Richland and Spartanburg counties.