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Need help with rent, utilities? We break down everything you need to know about the HOPE program

More than 200,000 renter households in North Carolina are behind on rent, according to a recent analysis from the U.S. Census Bureau Pulse Survey.

Callie Clendenin, WFMY News 2 Digital Team

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A change in the HOPE program will help more people pay their bills and give landlords the money they're owed.

The rental and utility assistance program is helping families impacted by the pandemic and currently serves 88 North Carolina counties

Previously, applicants could only make 50% of the median income in their area to be eligible. The HOPE program is expanding that to 80%, which means a lot more people can get help.

For example, in Alamance County, the median income is $68,000. It used to be only families who made $34,000, 50% of the median income, would qualify. Now, with the extension of up to 80%, families who make $54,000 could be helped. 

Eligible applicants can get up to 12 months of rent assistance, which can be back rent or future rent payments. That rent payment goes directly to the landlord.

Applicants can also get up to three months of utility payments for electricity, gas, water, and wastewater.