CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - While many are still struggling to remain in their homes because of lost jobs and wages during this pandemic, Chatham County is stepping up to help. For the last three days, residents have been signing up to get some much needed help with rental assistance and utilities.
The Savannah-Chatham Economic Opportunity Authority is one of the organizations helping to distribute those funds. The director said they’ve gotten hundreds of calls from people desperate for help.
Both the Savannah-Chatham Economic Opportunity Authority and United Way of the Coastal Empire are hard at work trying to get $8.7 million in emergency rental assistance to Chatham County residents in need. Since the portal to sign up to make an appointment opened Monday, the EOA says their phones haven’t stopped ringing.
“I’ve talked to over 80 people today,” said Mona Clark, the Home Buying Education Coordinator/Housing Counselor with the Savannah-Chatham EOA.
Clark has worked for the EOA for nearly 30 years. She says the need for rent and utility assistance throughout the county is great.
“I’ve got a couple that’s coming in the morning. We normally get here at 8:30 but I am going to meet them here at 8:00 because they’re facing disconnection tomorrow. Georgia Power said they have until tomorrow to make sure that they pay something,” Clark said.
The Interim Executive Director Terry Tolbert says the amount of money people will receive will vary depending on where they live. He also says over 400 people have signed up for appointments and more are calling every day.
“We’ve had people crying because they have no idea how the next day is going to be for them,” Tolbert said.
The EOA wants to remind people, these funds are strictly for those needing emergency rental and utility assistance. People at risk of eviction, or if who make under your area’s average income for the household, and people who are unemployed will be prioritized.
The United Way of the Coastal Empire says they’ve had 5,000 calls this week for folks to speak with someone who can help.
They want to remind residents this emergency rental and utility assistance is for those effected by the pandemic. Those who are facing eviction will be prioritized first.
The Vice President of Direct Services and Impact says even though we may be slowly recovering from the pandemic, many people are still unemployed and need help.
“There are so many people who are still unemployed and unemployment is the biggest challenge right now because obviously if you’re not employed, regardless of whether or not maybe you’ve got assistance in 2020 to help with rental arrears or utility arrears, you may still be in that same position right now because you’re still not employed. So, it’s really keeping people in their homes that is the goal of this program is to keep people in their homes,” United Way of the Coastal Empire Vice President of Direct Services and Impact, Jennifer Darsey said.
To qualify, you must provide a copy of your ID, social security number, a copy of your lease, eviction notice and more.
The deadline to apply is Dec. 31.
REQUIREMENTS TO QUALIFY:
- Provide proof of loss of income due to COVID-19 pandemic (from March 1, 2020- to August 30, 2020)
- Provide verification of current household income (receiving unemployment benefits, returned to work, new employment, SSI and SSDI, child support and alimony where applicable)
- Provide verification of past due rent/mortgage/utilities (copy of the most recent bill, copy of the mortgage statement, copy of the lease or statement from the property management company)
- Provide identification of all members in the household applying for assistance
To apply online or learn more, click here. You can also learn more by calling 211.