Fayetteville mother is one of 12,000 recent eligible applicants for HOPE program to pay off rent, utilities

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- When Subrena Guy, a Fayetteville mother, heard about a new statewide initiative to help low-income families, struggling to pay bills, she knew she needed to apply.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced applications were being accepted for the N.C. Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program on October 15. The program will provide $117 million for rent and utility bills for renters who have a current household income that is 80 percent of the area median income or lower; they also have to be behind on those bills when they apply.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Cooper said that 12,000 eligible applicants had filed for assistance, including Guy.

The single mother of two is also allowing another teenager, who is without a home, to stay with them in their Cumberland County home.

Guy's been renting out the home from a landlord for more than a year, but she never expected being jobless. "After being furloughed, we were all completely let go, so it's been a long road here." Since losing her job, Guy says it's been difficult finding anything else that can financially support her family.

"I've never, ever been in a situation where I've not been able to pay my rent," Guy said. On top of that, Guy tells Eyewitness News it would be too expensive to move elsewhere since other housing options would require security payments and other initial fees.

As a result of the overwhelming bills, Guy has fallen two months behind on her rent and utilities, making her eligible for the HOPE program; she hopes this will be a life vest in a sea of uncertainty.

"Just being able to focus and move forward. If I could just get the help from the program, I could breathe a little bit, it's like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders," Guy said.

It is a weight that Guy has been feeling for the last seven months. "I'm trying to maintain a home, I'm trying to make sure the kids are staying focused on their schoolwork, with virtual." The mother is also having to be selective on what bills she pays, saying it's sometimes the house bill over electricity.

With Guy's extended unemployment benefits expiring in December, she's praying the HOPE program will be her saving grace to stay in their home.

According to a state press release, the program will make direct payments to landlords and utility companies.

People, who believe they qualify, can call 211, during regular business hours, or go to the HOPE program website for the online application.
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