Mecklenburg’s COVID rent relief applications quietly closed

Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez/mrodriguez@charlotteobserver.com
·2 min read

Mecklenburg County’s COVID-19 rent relief program has stopped accepting new applications as available funds wind down.

The RAMPCLT program is operated by housing nonprofit DreamKey Partners, and has disbursed rent, mortgage and utilities help from federal pandemic relief money allocated to the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

News of the application closure was first reported by WFAE.

The change was made quietly on the program’s website in January, but was not widely publicized.

“The 2022 RAMP rental assistance program is currently closed for new applications,” the website now reads.

There is just over $11.4 million in rent relief funds left from the county, and $6 million from the city that can be used for utilities, according data provided Thursday by the county.

DreamKey Partners on Thursday refused to comment, saying information about the closure would come from Mecklenburg County.

But the nonprofit told WFAE the remaining funds would likely be exhausted by the approximately 3,800 applicants currently in the pipeline. It could reopen if more funding becomes available.

Continuing to leave the program open now would offer false hope to new applicants, Erin Barbee, DreamKey’s chief strategy officer, told the station.

“We know the needs of this pandemic will be ongoing,” a statement from the county Thursday read in part, adding that updates would be shared on social media and the program website if additional federal or state funding is received.

The county’s statement also advised “anyone with a court date to attend court and reach out to community partners including RAMPCLT staff members available onsite for assistance.”

The remaining funds are what is left of the nearly $44.6 million from the city and $24.3 million from the county allocated in 2021. Those funds have helped 18,460 households to date.

Another nearly $14.3 million in combined funds from city, county and nonprofit sources was spent in 2020 for help with rent, mortgage, utilities and hotel payments to 6,300 households, according to DreamKey Partners.

Have trouble paying rent? Here’s how to get assistance in Charlotte

Help needed

Renters’ need for help has been consistent during the pandemic, as many workers lost wages or fell ill, threatening their ability to make payments.

That was visibly evident in early October, when the program offered in-person registration. The event drew 300 people on a single day, more than initially expected.

Many renters are facing steep balances.

RAMPCLT leaders previously told the Observer that balances of $7,000 to $8,000 were common, signaling applicants owed several months of rent.

Meanwhile, evictions have resumed in Mecklenburg County, after the federal moratorium was struck down in late August.

Eviction protection is gone — just as many in Charlotte need help for first time

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