ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA)–Anderson County will soon receive $6.1 million for an Emergency Rental Assistance Program, as part of a CARES package from the United States Treasury.
With COVID-19 still present, many people continue to face tough times, and that’s why Anderson County wants to focus on helping everyone stay in their homes and not on the street.
The phones inside the United Way of Anderson County, have been ringing off the hook.
“We’ve had a number of people that have called and the scariest stories are when people call in and they have a number of children and their power is going to be turned off or they’re going to be evicted,” said Carol Burdette, CEO United Way of Anderson County.
Burdette said the calls requesting assistance for rent payments, have nearly doubled each month.
“In September and October, we were averaging around 50 people asking for help for rent each month. That has double to nearly 100,” Burdette said.
With hundreds of people struggling, Anderson County will use the Emergency Rental Assistance funds, to assist people with paying their rent or mortgage, and they’re even providing face-to-face counseling.
“It will provide rental assistance, help you pay your rent, so that you can stay in your home and or apartment. And that’s the whole focus. To keep people in their homes and or apartments, so that they will have a roof over their heads,” said Rusty Burns, Anderson County’s Administrator. “They can do total and in some cases, partial. It will be a system where we will try to help you stay in your house if you need a little help, if you need a lot of help. Hopefully we’re going to have the flexibility to do that,” Burns said.
“People are struggling all over the United States of America. So this will be a nationwide program, but we’re just going to just be concerned about the people in Anderson County, in trying to interface with them on a more personal level not such a bureaucratic level where go to this computer, and do this and do that, but actually do face-to-face counseling, and provide this assistance to them,” Burns said.
Burns also said if your electricity, water, or gas, is included in your rent payment, that also qualifies for assistance.
“So this will also help landlords to a degree. But what we want to do is prevent people from becoming homeless. We don’t need any more families on the streets, and with $6.1 million, I think we can make a huge dent in that and prevent that from happening,” Burns said.
Anderson Interfaith Ministries (AIM), will take the applications and process them on behalf of the County, and the United Way of Anderson County said people will be able to call their 211 line, where they will point people to assistance.
“The money that Anderson County is about to receive, for rental assistance, will truly be the gap between people having what they need, and us having thousands of people on the street with no place to live,” Burdette said. “This is the time of year where it’s very cold, we don’t want to see any families, we don’t want to see any children or others out on the street with no where to go or no way for help. There is help if they’d just call,” she added.
Burns said they’re still waiting on final guidelines from the federal government on exact qualifying specifics for individuals. Burns also said the program should be up and running within the next 30 days.
Anderson County leaders also said they have 11 months to spend the funds for this program, and what is not used, will go back to the federal government.