UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Angela Short is eagerly waiting for her stimulus check. Short said she lost her restaurant job, and her husband’s hours were cut. They’re currently behind on May’s rent, and utility bills.
“We haven’t paid our light bill in 3 months,” said Short.
Last month, the reality of their situation set in. Short said her landlord sent a text saying April’s rent for their Waxhaw home was past due -- that’s when Short reached out to Union County Crisis Assistance Ministry, which immediately took care of the payment.
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“A parent will do whatever they go to do for their kid, and one thing I’m not going to do is see my kids on the streets. And I’m not going to see my kids separated,” she said.
There are others, like Short, that worry about losing their home. That’s why Union County Crisis Assistance Ministry partnered with Union County Community Action, the Department of Social Services and the Community Shelter of Union County to form a task force. It’s the first time these organizations have come together in a crisis.
The task force’s goal is simple. They want to help keep people housed, especially in the next few weeks, when landlords start filing evictions.
In North Carolina, landlords can start filing evictions on June 1.
“It could be rental assistance, mortgage assistance, utility assistance, not every agency but some agencies are looking at things like car assistance, because in a rural county like this, without your vehicle you are so limited to the work that you can find,” Melissa McKeown with the Community Shelter of Union County said.
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McKeown said they don’t know how many people will need their help, but it could be hundreds. They’ve housed 600 families over the last six years and many of them are at risk of falling behind on payments.
“The reality for many of them is that they are already behind in their rent, they are already behind in their utility payments so after the eviction moratorium is over, a lot of people will be facing eviction without help,” McKeown said.
So far, the agency has secured a $20,000 grant from United Way of Union County so they can assist 20 families. Union County Crisis Assistance Ministry secured a $30,000 grant. They organization does not have an income requirement. The task force hopes to do more in the coming weeks.
“When referrals come in, they’ll be on shared document that we will staff each week, and we think that will prevent anyone from slipping through the cracks,” McKeown said.
Short is a testament to that. “They [Union County Crisis Assistance Ministry] even called me since then [April]. Checking on me. ‘Is everything okay? You’re good?’ ‘Yes, ma’am thank you very much'. We need more people like crisis,'” she said.
McKeown said by helping others, it should also assist landlords who operate small businesses.
“If we can help them with some financial assistance from their tenants, it would help stabilize their business a well,” she said.
If you’re having trouble paying rent/utility bills or are worried about being evicted, contact any of the four agencies for help.
- Union County Crisis Assistance Ministry- (704) 225-0440
- Union County Community Action - (704) 283-7583
- Union County DSS- (704) 296-4300
- The Community Shelter of Union County - (704) 289-5300
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