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You can help Asheville residents struggling to make ends meet during COVID-19 pandemic

You can help Asheville residents struggling to make ends meet during COVID-19 pandemic
The MHO Renter Relief Fund and UNC Asheville’s Thrive Program have been set up to help renters during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The pandemic is affecting some renters and landlords as each tries to pay the bills.

Leaders at Mountain Housing Opportunities said many of the renters in their 655 units have struggled to pay for basic needs since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March.

“Some of them have lost their jobs or they have been cut back,” said James Dennis, MHO’s asset manager.

After seeing what their renters have been going through, Dennis said they decided to start a renter relief fund.

“We are trying to raise funds to give them some assistance to help out with food, household supplies and masks and hand sanitizer,” Dennis said.

Dennis said the group has already raised $20,000 through mostly business donations. He said they are now asking individuals in the community to help.

“Even though $20,000 sounds like a lot, it doesn’t go a long way when you’re talking about 650-some households,” Dennis said.

CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION CENTER: TRACK THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS, IMPACTS, AND HEADLINES ABOUT THE PANDEMIC HERE

A commercial landlord said it’s not just renters losing money.

“We did a lot of deferred rent programs with the local tenants across the board. So, it’s like, OK, we understand your situation, our situation is we still have properties to manage, we still have to maintain the property,” said Amy Stevens, a partner at DNA Partners.

Stevens, who manages a property in Asheville, said many landlords still have loans to pay on their properties, and they can’t afford to not have rent coming in.

“We’re not heartless people. Obviously, we’re fully compassionate with empathy, and we’re all working together so that we continue to maintain the property, which is not cheap,” Stevens said.

The federal government recently banned all evictions for the rest of the year for residential renters who can’t pay rent because of the pandemic.

If you want to donate to the MHO’s Renter Relief Fund, you may use the online portal or mail your donation to MHO Renter Relief Fund, 64 Clingman’s Ave., Suite 101, Asheville, NC 28801.

There is another program working to help people find affordable housing.

The city of Asheville has partnered with UNC Asheville’s Thrive Program to help make affordable housing vouchers more attractive to landlords.

ASHEVILLE PARTNERSHIP LAUNCHES INITIATIVE TO EXPAND AFFORDABLE HOUSING

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