Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- An extended moratorium on evictions is set to expire at the end of the month.
Housing advocates fear when it's lifted, hundreds of thousands in our state will have no place to live.
A program called SC Stay is working to keep more people in their homes.
"Our plan is to help as many people as possible. We know that help is needed right now," said Chris Winston, the Spokesman of SC Housing.
For many South Carolinians, months and months of mortgage and rent payments are piling up.
While the moratorium delays the due date, when it's lifted, these tenants will owe thousands.
"The National Council of State Housing Authorities predicts there may be between 100,000 and 180,000 renters in South Carolina who face eviction when some of the moratorium and pauses on evictions come off at the end of January," said Winston. "South Carolina had a large number of evictions of people who are struggling with affordable housing even before the pandemic. What you saw with the pandemic is just an exacerbation of that problem."
Fortunately, Winston says help is on the way through the SC Stay COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program.
"We have up to $25 million to spend in the next little bit to help people with their mortgage or rental assistance," said Winston.
The money comes from CARES Act funding from HUD and the Department of Commerce.
Before the program begins, SC Housing needs partners.
"We're looking for nonprofits, governmental agencies, other groups who can help us certify folks who are qualified for the assistance and help us distribute those funds."
Funding will be available for up to six months of rent.
To qualify, families must:
- Make at or below 80% of the county median income
- Have a landlord or lender confirm late payment status while being willing to accept payments on the tenant's behalf
- Prove they are unable to pay to live in their home for reasons related to the pandemic
SC Stay is set to launch the financial assistance by mid February.
"You're still going to be challenging economic times ahead for a lot of people in our community and we hope to help as many people as possible," said Winston.
For non-profits or agencies interested in helping, click here. The deadline to respond to offer assistance is January 19.
For tenants who wish to learn more information about the program and when it begins, call the SC Housing hotline at (833) 985-2929 or fill out a short form here.
Renters and homeowners seeking assistance to avoid eviction or foreclosure can find helpful resources on SC Housing's website.