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Richland County sees uptick in people seeking crisis relief as eviction protections end

Millions of dollars in rent and utility assistance are still available for those in need.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Some rental assistance programs are seeing an uptick of people in need with the federal pause on evictions now lifted.

The Richland Library works to help those filing for rent and utility funds through the county's Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

On Monday, Robin Gunter visited hoping for help after receiving an eviction notice.

"When my grandchildren like, 'grandma what’s going to happen next?' I say, 'grandma got you; grandma got you. God got us baby. We gon’ be alright,'” Gunter said. “I didn’t want them to see it, but it was eating me up on the inside.”

She says one of her loved ones lost their job during the pandemic, and the bills kept building.

RELATED: SC rent, utility program sees thousands of applicants; millions in funds still available

"That’s why I’m here today, because it’s to the point that everything is backing up,” Gunter said. “I pay something on it to keep it on.”

Lee Patterson is the Director of Social Work at the Richland Library.

"We have seen a significant increase in individuals who are coming to apply for the rental assistance," Patterson said. "You’ll need things like your past few months of income statement. You’ll need proof of residency ... You bring us the documents and we’ll do the heavy lifting."

RELATED: SC nonprofit working to help renters and landlords get housing assistance

Each of the Richland Library branches can help by provides internet access. Workers can also respond to basic questions. 

The Main Branch at 1431 Assembly Street provides the most hands-on assistance and can meet with people by appointment.

Once the ERAP application is completed, funding can take weeks to arrive.

Gunter qualified for a separate grant program the library connected her to.

RELATED: After moratorium's end, Columbia Housing vows to keep its residents in homes

"I’m excited about that," she said. "Don’t never give up ‘cause God got you, he got you, he not gon’ let you fall.”

Richland County residents can access the online application for rent and utility assistance on the county website.

The library can offer application assistance by calling 803-509-8371, texting 803-386-8506 or emailing socialworker@richlandlibrary.com

The county’s Department of Government and Community Services also offers in-person assistance on a limited basis and by appointment only. Residents are urged to review the ERAP information and must bring all required documentation to their appointment. 

RELATED: Feds report most rental assistance has still not gone out

To schedule an appointment call 803-576-1513. When leaving a message, please provide your name and phone number for a return call. 

For those who do not live in Richland County, S.C. Housing offers a separate rent and utility program called SC Stay Plus. Information on this program can be found HERE

RELATED: Here's how to apply for rental, utility assistance in South Carolina