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Update: 12/17/20 - Utility Assistance
Utility Assistance and Help During COVID-19
Find Local Resources through 2-1-1 and Find an Advocate
- United Way hosts a free information and referral service through their 2-1-1 program. If you need financial assistance to pay utilities, they can direct you to the best local agency to help. If you have an (828) area code, simply dial 211 on your phone to be connected to a representative that can assist you or visit the 211 website here.
- If you were denied the option for a payment plan with a utility provider, contact the NC Utilities Commission at 1-866-380-9816. The NC Utilities Commission can advocate for a payment plan with your utility company.
Find Internet in Your Area
The North Carolina Department of Information Technology has compiled a list of new and existing free or affordable service offerings statewide here. To find out what service providers are available in your area and a list of their services, use their Interactive Map:
- Enter your home street address in the address field and click the magnifying glass.
- After clicking search, directly under the search box, a list of providers in your area will appear. You can contact these companies to get internet set up if you don’t have it.
- To see what free or low-cost services are provided by those companies, scroll through the list of company names at the bottom of the page until you find the company that services your area.
Update: 12/15/20 - Moratorium on Foreclosure Continues for Certain Mortgages
- The moratorium (pause) on foreclosures will continue until January 31, 2021 for all mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The moratorium on FHA, USDA, and VA loans ends December 31, 2020.
- Your mortgage company is required to waive all late charges, fees, and penalties while you are on COVID-19 forbearance plan.
- Additionally, they are providing forbearances to borrowers impacted by the coronavirus. Forbearance could allow for a mortgage payment to be suspended for up to 12 months. Here’s more info.
- Regarding fraud: there are some individuals and organizations that may promise to get you a lower interest rate on your mortgage if you pay them, and they may claim to be a housing counseling agency/attorney. Housing counseling agencies don’t charge for foreclosure prevention. You should not seek assistance from anyone out of state claiming to give you legal representation.
- Worried about your mortgage payment? First, log into your account on your mortgage servicer’s website to see what programs are currently available and their response to COVID-19. If you don’t see what you need, call your servicer’s phone number located on your monthly loan statement.
- You can also find out what type of relief you qualify for, here.
- Check out this handout we created called: Forbearance: What to Know and What to Ask Your Lender.
- Learn more from our sources of FHA and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Update: 12/8/20 - Need Financial Help with Housing Expenses and Other Urgent Financial Needs?
Apply for Housing Assistance through the Department of Health and Human Services
- The Buncombe County Health and Human Services Department is offering assistance with rent, mortgage, or utilities to residents who have been economically impacted by COVID-19.
- To be eligible for the COVID Housing Assistance Program, you must be a resident of Buncombe County, have lost income due to COVID-19, and have an income limit at or below 200% of the poverty level ($52,400 for a family of 4).
- You must also be behind on your rent, mortgage, or utilities and have a plan to pay your rent, mortgage, or utility expenses after the Program assists with the past due bills.
- To see if your eligible, fill out the Inquiry Assistance Form or call (828) 250-5500 to be connected with a case work to start the application process
Apply for Rent, Utilities, Mortgage, Childcare, Medication or Transportation with Pisgah Legal Services Project Uplift
- Apply for emergency assistance to prevent eviction or foreclosure and support for utilities, childcare, transportation and medication if you were impacted by COVID-19.
- Assistance is available in Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Henderson, Transylvania, and Polk counties.
- To be eligible, you must earn at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, which for a family of four is $52,400 a year or $4,367 a month. View income guidelines here.
- Amount of assistance provided will depend on available funding, level of need, and number of applicants.
- Learn more and apply online.
Update: 9/10/20 - Rental Eviction Moratorium through December 31, 2020
Nationwide Moratorium (Pause) on Evictions Declared through December 31, 2020 to Contain COVID-19 Spread
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has halted rental evictions nationwide through December 31, 2020.
- Unpaid rent, fees, and interest will still be due at the end of the moratorium.
- To be eligible, renters must earn $99,000 or less for an individual tax return filer or $198,000 or less for joint tax return filers.
- Read more details from the CDC here.
Landlords MUST PROVIDE A FORM and Renters MUST SUBMIT A FORM to Qualify for the Moratorium. Here’s How:
- Starting October 30th and ending December 31st, North Carolina landlord’s will be required to provide tenants with a blank copy of the form, and landlord’s will be required to submit a signed affidavit confirming they provided the form to the tenant in eviction proceedings.
- All adults on the lease will have to submit a signed form to their landlord.
- They will have to confirm that they have had a substantial loss in household income, that they cannot pay full rent, and they have made best efforts to pay partial rent.
- The renter also must specify that an eviction would likely lead to homelessness or force them to live in close quarters with others.
- Please note the following warning in the form: This declaration is sworn testimony, meaning that you can be prosecuted, go to jail, or pay a fine if you lie, mislead, or omit important information.
- Renters can use this form from the CDC to submit to their landlord.
- Read more on Governor Cooper’s order requiring landlords to provide the form and to certify they have done so.
To Protect Yourself, Make Sure:
- Whenever possible, make a partial rental payment to show your commitment to paying your rent, and make sure to keep a record (receipts, canceled checks, etc.) to show the partial payments you’ve made.
- Keep copies of all emails or letter communication with your landlord, including summaries of any verbal agreements/discussions regarding the signed form, rental payment agreements, or other discussions you’ve had (that’s right; if you’ve had a verbal conversation, follow up with a summary email to your landlord to keep track of all communication). Doing this will cut down on confusion later.
Update: 8/28/20 - City of Asheville Utility Help
Asheville City Offers Water/Sewer Repayment Plans and Protections from Shut-offs for Bills Delinquent Before August 18, 2020
- The City of Asheville started notifying Asheville water/sewer utility customers of payment plans and safeguards available to them if they have delinquent balances that occurred between March 13th and August 18th 2020.
- No delinquent fees will be added to the balance owed during this time period, service will not be discontinued for those missed payment, and this safeguard will last for a six (6) month period and runs through February 18, 2021.
- Customers have two options for repaying past-due balances.
- Customers can choose to pay as much as they can and are encouraged to do so regularly.
- Customers can also chose to sign up for a formal payment plan by calling Customer Service at 828-251-1122 or by visiting the Water Resources Operations Center at 200 Bingham Road Monday through Friday from 8 am to noon and 1 to 4 pm.
- The balance, including any new charges, must be paid in full within the six (6) month period or their service will be disconnected.
- Learn more about it at City of Asheville.
Update: 8/3/20 – Dwindling Protections for Renters
Pay Rent on Time if You Are Able
- Because protections for renters are so few, it’s important to pay rent on time if at all possible.
- If you can’t afford to pay your rent in full, talk to your landlord and explain the situation. Many landlords are willing to work with tenants to provide flexibility.
- If your landlord attempts to evict you or you are worried that you will not be able to pay your rent, call Pisgah Legal Services at (828) 253-0406.
- Additionally, you can call OR text the CARES Act Eviction Information Line at 1-919-590-9165 as they may be able to advise you on working out a payment plan with your landlord or help those who need in-court representation.