Millions In Rent, Utility Assistance Available In South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Applications are now available for people who need help paying back rent and utilities in South Carolina because of the pandemic.

People who qualify can get up to 12 months of aid for rent or utility bills that date back to March 2020. They can also qualify for up to three months of future rental assistance.

The SC Stay Plus program aims to help keep evictions at bay, and help renters and landlords get back on their feet across the state, a news outlet reported.

Chris Winston, a spokesman for SC Housing, said they expect as many as 100,000 households in South Carolina to apply.

“Maybe they missed a payment or two back in the summer or fall… Maybe they’re safe and secure now, but they still have these lingering missed payments over their head and they’re worried about eviction,” he said.

For a household to qualify, one or more individuals must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Has qualified for unemployment or experienced a reduction in household income;
  • incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship directly or indirectly due to COVID-19 (since March 2020);
  • can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability;
  • has a household income at or below 80% of the county median income.

“The federal government has asked us to prioritize people who have been out of work for more than 90 days, and people who are less than 50% of their area’s median income,” Winston said. “We do want to make sure we are taking care of people who need it the most — the hardest hit folks.”

SC Housing launched a similar program, SC Stay, in February. Some $25 million in emergency renters assistance was distributed through that program, Winston said.

“We saw 7,000 applicants in the first six days that the application portal was open — basically exhausting requests for the $25 million,” he said.

Winston said SC Housing hopes to distribute all the latest funds by September. The funding is made available by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Congress passed a $25 billion rental and utility assistance package in December.

Residents in 39 South Carolina counties are eligible.