Saturday, December 9, 2023

Eligible households can apply through end of month for NHC’s rental assistance program

New Hanover County is extending its rental assistance pilot program, with applications open through Sept. 30 for eligible households. (Port City Daily/file)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — In an effort to help address housing needs in the community, the county has announced it will extend a pilot program offering rental assistance to low-income families.

New Hanover County has funded its Workforce Housing Gap Rental Assistance program for a second year with updated guidelines and enough money allotted — through the American Rescue Plan Act — to offset costs for up to 90 households. Applications are open now through Sept. 30 for eligible residents to apply.

READ MORE: County’s affordable housing framework prioritizes shovel-ready projects

“This program is an important service for our residents who need assistance closing the gap between their income and rental costs,” Senior Long Range Planner Rachel LaCoe said in a press release.

LaCoe also manages the county’s new workforce housing team.

Moving into the second year, the program will be available to households earning between 60 to 80 percent of the area median income. Qualified applicants will receive a $450 reimbursement subsidy per month for one year to compensate for rental costs.

“Based on updated federal guidance for the use of these funds, we will be serving a slightly lower income range this year than we did the first year,” LaCoe explained in the release. “We will also be increasing the monthly amount provided to households because we know there has been an increase in rent prices over the past year. We hope this updated stipend amount will bridge that gap even more and help provide greater access to stable and affordable housing, which is a foundational element for every person to thrive.” 

To be eligible for the rental assistance program in New Hanover County, residents must meet the following criteria:

  • Total household income must be between 60 and 80% of the AMI, as defined by HUD
  • Rent must be current when the application is submitted and must remain current while receiving assistance
  • Total monthly rent cannot exceed 150% of the fiscal year 2022 HUD Fair Market Rent: maximum rents allowed are $1,400 for a one-bedroom, $1,700 for a two-bedroom and $2,300 for a three-bedroom unit
  • Participants who previously received emergency relief funding related to Covid-19, including from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, are not eligible
  • Households must have experienced a self-attested Covid-related hardship

Residents can fill out a form online or over the phone by calling 910-798-7180. Applications will be reviewed and screen in October. Priority will be given to households with children, along with circumstances where additional funding will help improve a living situation.

The Gap Rental Assistance Pilot Program is one of several initiatives established and approved by the board of commissioners to address housing affordability. Commissioners approved in its annual budget $15 million over the next five years for the affordable housing initiatives. 

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