SC Housing trying to help struggling renters

By Mike McCombs

With the Federal government’s moratorium on evictions coming to an end Saturday, July 31, there is still help available for the nearly 5,000 cost-burdened renters in Beaufort County.

S.C. Housing’s SC Stay Plus Covid-19 Housing Assistance is available. But so far, hardly anyone is asking.

According to S.C. Housing spokesperson Chris Winston, in Beaufort County, as of last week, only about seven percent of the renters eligible for the program have inquired.

“That’s a bit lower than we would have expected,” Winston said.

“Cost-burdened” renters, according to Winston, pay rent above 50 percent of their household income. Federal guidelines say rent should occupy close to 30 percent of the household income. After that point, housing costs become a burden, preventing renters from paying for necessities such as food, transportation and child care.

“These are people who are struggling to make ends meet and afford their housing even before the pandemic,” Winston said. “You would expect these people would have seen their financial situations digress even more during the pandemic.”

SC Stay Plus provides assistance in three key ways:

1. SC Stay Plus will pay up to 12 months of back rent brought on by COVID-19 related financial instability. The money is paid directly to the landlord.

2. SC Stay Plus will offer up to three additional months of future rental assistance for those at risk of homelessness or eviction.

3. SC Stay Plus will offer utility assistance paid directly to the utility companies for past-due utility and energy costs.

For Beaufort County, the eligible salary ranges from $45,650 to $86,100, depending on the household size. Applicants are already qualified if they are collecting SNAP, WIC, unemployment benefits or Medicaid.

There is no citizenship requirement, and it doesn’t have to be a formal lease. Renters must simply show they are consistently trying to pay rent.

“We have spent the last two weeks really focusing on property managers and landlords,” Winston said. “We’re focusing on letting them know we pay them directly. If they exercise a little more patience for a little longer with those asking for help as the moratorium ends, they’ll get paid.”

The SC Stay Plus application can accessed online at SCHousing.com/Home/SC-Stay-Plus. For more information, call 803-336-3420, 1-800-476-0412 or email scstayplus@schousing.com.

Mike McCombs is the editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.

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