Akira Johnson lost her primary source of income early in the pandemic when she was forced to shut down her Lash extension project.
“I didn’t have a backup plan,” Johnson said. “So when they said no salon, no lashes. It was as if my world had been turned upside down.”
Despite downsizing her apartment, applying for unemployment benefits and emptying her savings, she eventually defaulted on her rent.
“I was about $9,000 behind by the time I started helping out,” Johnson said.
When I learned that she had been accepted into SC Stay Plus in 2021, I was relieved.
“It is very important for my children to come home from school so that they have a place to call home,” Johnson said. “And my mother is happy.”
Johnson is still using the program today as her business continues to recover after the pandemic. Renaye Long of SC Housing said thanks for the hundreds of millions of dollars from Federal Covid Relief Funds.
“We basically served about 46,000 families and spent $186 million,” Long said.
Related: Nine ways to protect your life from stagnation as prices rise
Long said the program helps those who are 12 months behind on rent dating back to March 13, 2020; Up to three months of future rent to stabilize those with housing insecurity; and cover other housing costs.
“We want people to reach out early,” Long said. “We don’t want them to wait until they receive a notice to vacate.”
Residents of 39 counties are eligible to participate in the program. Seven more counties have received funding and are offering their own rental assistance programs: Anderson, Berkeley, Charleston, Greenville, Horie, Richland, and Spartanburg.
Tenants who need this assistance must apply and provide certain documents to prove that they need assistance. Applicants must meet one of the following requirements:
- Eligible for unemployment or experienced a decline in family income, incurred significant costs, or experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19;
- Shows risk of homelessness or instability in housing; And the
- Family income at or below 80% of the family’s size-adjusted county income.
Long said there is an income eligibility calculator on the SC Housing website.
SC Housing also offers a South Carolina Homeowner’s Rescue Program to help homeowners who are delinquent on their mortgage payments.
“There is a lot of money available to continue helping families in our state,” Long said.
The City of Columbia awarded the Cooperative Department $250,000 to assist eligible city residents with rent and utilities.
The city tells News 19 that these funds are nearly out of stock, but encourages those in need to contact the department at 803-799-3853 x608 or email [email protected] for more information.
Richland County has also received Covid relief money to help with rent. To date, Richland County has approved more than $17 million in assistance to residents.
RELATED: 5,000 people on Colombia’s housing authority waiting list amid national housing shortage