Officials urge tenants to apply for Durham’s rent relief scheme as February 6 deadline approaches

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DURHAM, NC (WNCN) – Time is running out for Durham tenants who are behind on their rent to apply for assistance through Durham’s Rent Relief Program, as the program closes at midnight on Sunday.

The Durham Rent Assistance Scheme is available to any tenant in Durham who needs housing assistance, and families can receive up to 18 months of rent and utility assistance.

But due to the volume of aid requests since the program opened, the $5.7 million program will end on Sunday.

Durham Housing Authority officials told CBS 17 that there are currently around 500 tenants living in council housing who are behind on their rent.

Housing authority officials previously told CBS 17 that in order for these tenants to avoid receiving an eviction notice at the end of February, they would need to apply for assistance through Durham’s Rent Assistance Scheme.

On Friday afternoon, the Housing Authority hosted an event at the TA Grady Leisure Center on Lakeland Street where tenants in arrears with rent could get help applying for housing assistance.

Charlitta Burruss lives in the Edgemont Elms council housing community in Durham and she hopes the scheme will help her catch up on her rent.

“People are freaking out now,” Burruss said. “COVID has caused a lot of heartache and pain.”

Burruss said asking for help has not been an easy process over the past few months. She said she applied for housing assistance through County Durham’s Emergency Housing Assistance Program (ERAP) but was turned down for the program.

She hopes that this time she will get the help she needs.

“The process is slow,” Burruss said. “Right now I’m basically in a waiting period.”

Sarah D’Amato, director of the Eviction Diversion for Legal Aid of North Carolina program, said it’s crucial that Durham Housing Authority tenants seek help before Sunday, as no other similar program currently exists. to this one offering the same kind of help. with rent.

“We don’t anticipate more federal funding on the horizon,” D’Amato said. “There may be more federal assistance available, but at this point we don’t know.”

But D’Amato said while no more federal help was coming, she said if tenants contacted the Durham Housing Authority for help before the end of February something could still be sorted out.

“DHA has housing assistance specialists, and these people are responsible for trying to work with individual tenants and residents to come up with payment plans, so they can actually avoid eviction as long as they’re offering a payment arrangement,” D’Amato says.

D’Amato said if tenants end up receiving eviction notices, they can contact the legal aid office for help with legal proceedings.

No one from the Durham Housing Authority was available for an interview on Friday about other resources available for housing assistance.

However, a spokesperson for the Durham Housing Authority told CBS 17 that the Salvation Army and some local churches were offering help.

To apply for help through the Durham Rent Relief Scheme, go to durhamrentrelief.org and apply by midnight on February 6.

To contact the Durham Housing Authority for help with payment plans, go to durhamhousingauthority.org/housing-stability.

To contact Legal Aid of North Carolina for help with eviction notices, call their toll-free helpline at 1-877-201-6426 or visit their Housing Helpline website for free legal resources at eviction and tenant rights.

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