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Temporary rental assistance extended for lower-income NHC households affected by COVID-19

A new study says on average someone would have to earn $24.90 per hour to rent a modest two-bedroom home on no more than 30% of their pay. That's far more than the federal minimum wage.
Rich Pedroncelli
Over half of Wilmington renters pay more than 30% of their income towards housing.

The Workforce Housing Gap Rental Assistance Pilot Program is continuing for another year, with some changes in criteria. For one year, eligible households will receive a monthly $450 reimbursement subsidy from the county’s America’s Rescue Plan funding to help with rental costs.

The program began last year to address the large number of renters in Wilmington who spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs, according to New Hanover County.

To be eligible, households must earn between 60-80% of the Area Median Income as defined by Housing and Urban Development and have experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants cannot have received COVID-19-related emergency relief funding previously, and the maximum rent amounts eligible for assistance are $1,400 for a one-bedroom, $1,700 for a two-bedroom, and $2,300 for a three-bedroom dwelling.

This is a lower income range and larger monthly amount than last year, according to Rachel LaCoe, manager of the county’s new Workforce Housing team.

“We hope this updated stipend amount will bridge that gap even more and help provide greater access to stable and affordable housing,” LaCoe said in a county’s press release.

According to NHC, up to 90 households can be assisted through this program.

Applications are open between Sept. 12-30 and will be screened in October. The screening will prioritize households with children and situations where the funding would improve the recipient’s living situation, such as letting a family move into safer conditions.

Grace is a multimedia journalist recently graduated from American University. She's attracted to issues of inequity and her reporting has spanned racial disparities in healthcare, immigration detention and college culture. In the past, she's investigated ICE detainee deaths at the Investigative Reporting Workshop, worked on an award-winning investigative podcast, and produced student-led video stories.