MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) got some answers on why the emergency rental assistance program known as RAMP CLT stopped taking applications last month unexpectedly.
“The biggest change, when the RAMP application closed was the number of funds that people needed. It was thousands upon thousands of dollars," said Carol Hardison, CEO of the Crisis Assistance Ministry.
The non-profit helps people facing financial trouble cover rent and other basic needs. It saw an increase in the demand for rent assistance during the pandemic.
“44% of the people that have been coming have never sought help before. So these are people that were largely impacted by COVID, or the economic fallout, such as losing jobs,” said Hardison.
Thousands impacted sought emergency rental assistance through the ramp program. The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County partnered with DreamKey Partners to oversee and distribute the federal funds.
“We are really proud to say that throughout this program since February of 2021 we have helped over 18,000 households,” said Erin Barbee, DreamKey's Chief Strategy Officer.
Mecklenburg County received $41 million and the city of Charlotte received $52 million to help those impacted by the pandemic financially. Applications were open on a rolling basis from the 1st to the 15th every month. However, the money was going fast and the organization shifted its focus to help the most vulnerable population.
“The first is those who were at 80% AMI (area median income) and below, had been served an eviction notice and had a court date within 90 days,” said Barbee.
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DreamKey told WCNC Charlotte it stopped taking new applications in January 2022, when there were about $20 million left.
As of January 31st, there are approximately 1,600 applications left to process and the remaining funds will go to complete those requests.
DreamKey said it will do a better job to communicate the opening and closing of the application portal in the future.
“In that situation, we said we need to be good stewards of our funds and address the pipeline that we have and if we opened the portal again it would be only because we have more money," said Barbee.
The organization did share some good news: there will be more funds. $21.4 million will be allocated for Mecklenburg County and $650,000 for the City of Charlotte. The portal will also reopen to applicants on March 1st at a new website.