FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Forsyth County will stop accepting applications for the federally-backed Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) after June 15.
The program is designed to help low-income renters financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and is funded through the federal government. The U.S. Department of Treasury created the program to help prevent evictions during the pandemic.
Forsyth County predicts it will have enough applications by mid-June to use all of the federal funds. Submitted applications will be processed by mid-June to deplete all of the remaining money.
"It's really just getting rid of those few protections that were still nominally in place and it's going to be kind of free reign for people getting kicked out of their homes," said Michael Papich with Housing Justice Now, a housing rights advocacy group in Winston-Salem.
Housing Justice Now said the average rent in Forsyth County has gone up 19.5% since 2019.
"Landlords are getting a big cut but they are not passing it down to people who pay them for housing. People are getting priced out," Papich said.
Residents at several apartment complexes in Greensboro said they were being priced out of their apartments this year. Greensboro/Guilford County's ERAP stopped accepting applications in March 2022.
"More people are at risk of being homeless," said Josie Williams, the executive director of the Greensboro Housing Coalition. "There (are) new people that never thought they would ever be homeless."
Williams said the ERAP was holding a lot of people up and now there aren't a lot of options, on the same scale, to help them with rent and utility costs. Housing Justice Now said they will continue to advocate for rental assistance and community housing trusts.
"The pressure to help people is gone," Papich said. "I think when help was put out to keep people in their homes and other measures during the pandemic part of it was to keep from there being a major crisis but it wasn’t out of the goodness of people's hearts, it was because there was such a big problem that had to be seen to do something."
The other issue, the groups said, is wages. Williams said people who need assistance often are working, but the pay is just not enough.
"So there is still this job market that seems to be robust right now but when you come down to the reality of it, things are not always as they seem," said Williams.