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What you need to know about Guilford County's rent & utility assistance program now available to eligible residents

The program is available for all eligible residents in Guilford County, including those who live in the cities and other municipalities.

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Starting Friday, July 9, Guilford County is accepting applications for rental and utility assistance, including those who live in the cities and municipalities in the area.

The program aims to help people struggling from the impact of COVID-19 and offers assistance for those eligible with their rent, internet, and utilities for their primary home. Utilities eligible for assistance include electricity, water/sewer, trash removal, natural gas, propane, fuel oil, and internet. 

ELIGIBILITY

To be eligible for the program, a person needs to fall under all of the following: 

  • Live in Guilford County or the other municipalities in Guilford County. 
  • Qualify for unemployment or have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experience financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Be at risk of homelessness or housing instability
  • Has not received rental assistance from any other federally funded program
  • Rent and utilities were current as of March 13, 2020
  • Household income is less than 80 percent of the average area income and less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

DOCUMENTS NEEDED

  • Driver's license or an official document indicating proof of residency
  • Copy of lease, rent statement, and/or utility bills showing the past due amount
  • Paystubs, letter of termination, furlough paperwork of unemployment benefits to show proof of household income and financial hardship for the previous two months

OTHER FAQs

According to Guilford County's website, the household income is the combined total of all adults over the age of 18 living in the home. If you live alone and are responsible for paying the rent and utilities, the county said you also eligible to apply. 

To prove you're experienced financial hardship because of COVID-19, you should provide documents that show proof of unemployment benefits, a reduction of income, increased expenses, or proof of other financial hardship. This can be for one or more people living in your home.

Tenants will need to get their landlord involved in the process as well. Landlords will be asked to complete documentation during the application process. The county said anyone with questions or concerns can call the customer service line at 336-641-3000.

The approved money will go directly to the landlord, property manager, and utility company. The amount of assistance a person gets will vary from household to household depending on the circumstances of each case. 

The county said the program helps with past due rent and utility bills up to 12 months, but an eligible person can apply in the months following as long as funds are still available. 

After a person submits the application, the county said they should expect to receive a phone call or get something in the mail notifying them they've either been approved or denied assistance. 

Guilford County's program is separate from the HOPE program, but Guilford County Department of Social Services Economic Director Randal Hoover said if people are denied or an application doesn't go through with a different program, they can apply for Guilford County's. 

Hoover said it usually takes a month to get the money to the landlord or utility company. 

"Our turnaround for processing the applications is about two to three weeks. From there once it's completed it goes to our finance department who issues the funds to the landlord, so I would say maybe 30 days would be the goal for the turnaround," he said. 

Hoover said the county has been trying to contact landlords directly to make sure they have all the information they need.

"Typically we’ve been contacting the landlords for the customer and explaining more about the program and the processes and try to work around getting the documentation that we need for the landlord," he said. 

Hoover said the county is asking landlords and companies to allow 30 days to go by for the money to come and be as patient as possible. 

Hoover said the county has $7.25 million in this round of funding. "We’ve expended about $2.1 million thus far so we feel like this will take us through several months and we are expecting additional funding beyond this in the future," he said. 

The program started in February of this year. Hoover said they've processed about 1,400 applications so far. 

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