COLUMBIA, S.C. — The COVID19 pandemic directly affected many South Carolinians abilities to pay everyday bills.
A new SC Housing program will help many see some relief.
“The assistance program… I think it’s a blessing," says Sherman Rease, a midlands renter who was directly affected by the COVID19 pandemic when his manufacturing job cut hours in order to focus on safety.
“COVID19 made a dramatic impact on my living situation and I can speak for others too who either lost their job or hours being cut," Rease told News19.
But now, Sherman and his dog Blu can breathe a little easier with the South Carolina Housing SC Stay Program.
“This program can take care of months and months. We have heard from most organizations that are serving folks that most folks are maybe behind maybe 4 or 6 months… but if you are 9 or 10 or 12 months behind… this program can take care of all of that as well as utility payments," explains Chris Winston with SC Housing.
This program helps those who are in need of extra cash to help pay back rent and utilities and those who qualify can get up to 12 months of financial aid dating back to March 2020.
“We’ve got hundreds of calls into our call center and hundreds of applications already being filed on the application website," Winson says, "We know there was a pent up need, we know a lot of counties in SC have renters who are behind on their payments, who are behind on their utility bills, and we hope to serve as many of them as quickly as possible.”
To receive the benefits, you have to meet one of three criteria:
-Qualified for unemployment or experienced a reduction in household income or financial hardships directly or indirectly due to COVID19
-Can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability
-or has a household income at or below 80% of the county median income.
“I’m working on it now," Rease told us, "I’m working on it this weekend to see what happens and whatever they decide to do to help me out, I’m going to take it- take it as a blessing.”
Funding for this program comes through the US Department of Treasury's Emergency Rental Assitance program with $272 million eligible.