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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Rent And Mortgage Assistance In Mecklenburg Can Likely Continue Into 2022, Says RAMP CLT

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The local organization providing utility, rent and mortgage assistance in Mecklenburg County says the number of people seeking help continues to grow, but there's no danger of running out of money, at least through the new year.

The Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program, also known as RAMP CLT, is funded by federal COVID-19 relief dollars administered by the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The program is overseen by DreamKey Partners, formerly known as the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership.

So far, the organization has sent out more than $26 million to roughly 6,700 households in Mecklenburg County. In total, the organization had received about 17,000 applications for assistance so far during the pandemic. About 12,000 have been approved, and the other 5,000 applications are being processed.

Erin Barbee, senior vice president of programs and fund development at Dreamkey Partners, says the organization still has about $11.3 million left to disperse, plus an additional $55 million still to come from the city and county.

"Ultimately, we firmly believe that we'll be able to assist people all the way into 2022," Barbee said.

That takes into account what RAMP CLT is expecting will be a busy September.

Already, the program saw a spike in new applications during August. Typically, the RAMP CLT was receiving between 1,000 and 2,000 applications a month, Barbee said, but that number jumped to nearly 3,000 in August.

Barbee said the increase came as many people believed the eviction moratorium would expire July 31, before President Biden extended it at the last moment.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the extension, Barbee says the organization will likely see another wave of applications from renters hoping to stave off possible evictions.

"And we're prepared for it, right? We're putting additional resources at it and making sure we have additional staff members," Barbee said.

The organization is also connecting renters and homeowners with legal help and other resources through Crisis Assistance Ministry and Legal Aid North Carolina.

Barbee said the RAMP CLT program has a team of 30 staff members who are already planning to work some evenings and weekends to make sure the funds are dispersed as quickly as possible.

She said most applications for assistance in Mecklenburg County appeared to be legitimate, and that of the 17,000 applications sent in so far, less than 100 were suspected by the organization to be fraudulent.

The program is open to any Mecklenburg County renters or homeowners who recently lost their job or have otherwise lost income due to COVID-19 and have a household income at or below 80%of the area median income.

Qualified renters can receive up to 18 months of assistance. Renters who have been served an eviction notice and have upcoming court dates are being prioritized.