Anyone facing eviction, or the currently homeless, in the Charleston West Virginia area have resources available to help them. The aid, which combines money from government grants as well as ongoing support to the tenant, is very limited and requires the applicant to take many steps on their own as well.
Agencies across the greater Kanawha County area partner with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as agencies such as the United Way to provide help to qualified low income households. Many of these groups are part of the Continuum of Care, which is an affiliation of non-profits that focus on tacking housing issues in the community.
When an eviction notice is provided to a tenant, the first thing they need to go is to closely review it. Some landlords may be starting the process due to unpaid rent while other families are evicted due to other reasons, such as damage to the home, being noisy, or not abiding by lease terms. If there are questions on what the landlord sent, then a tenant can look into free legal aid.
Studies show that most of the evictions in Charleston are the result of either unpaid rent or utility bills. In general, most landlords have the right to send a pay or quit notice if the home's heat, water, or electricity is disconnected, as this means the property is uninhabitable. If someone is facing an eviction due to these monetary issues, then the solutions to it are more difficult.
On a case by case basis, some of the Kanawha County agencies may be able to offer the family financial help from a government grant, such as ESG or Emergency Food or Shelter. The funds are usually allocated to the region around January 1st of each year and go quickly. The agencies that have this money will also have a strict application process in place.
When approved, at most only a portion of the rent (or utility bill) due will be paid. This approach is the hand-up and not the “free hand out” approach. Charities will ensure that the applicant takes the proper steps to overcome their hardship.
As part of this process, staff will offer guidance and support to the tenant that is threatened with an eviction. A holistic approach will be used in which everything ranging from employment to credit scores is reviewed. There are numerous non-profits in the Charleston area that partner together on this process. Some, such as as WIA center, can provide information on employment. Other, including non-profit credit counseling agencies, will help deal with debts or credit scores. There are also resources for single mothers as well as the elderly in the area.
Many applicants have major barriers to moving into a new apartment. Often their credit scores are very poor, or they have debt and/or a past history of evictions on their record. This will cause many landlords in Charleston (and other cities) to be very hesitant to lease to a family. Therefore rehousing will also address these issues.
When a family needs more time to tackle the root cause of their eviction, then short term housing can be used. Some agencies will issue a motel voucher for paying for a few nights or so while a shelter frees up. The accommodations will help the family (and their children) have a place to stay while they work on the rehousing process.
Charleston Rapid Rehousing can also have a financial component as well. After many of the issues that lead to the client being homeless have been solved, then applications can be done for Emergency Solution Grants. This will help pay for certain housing expenses such as lease application fees, a security deposit, or even help pay for up front rental costs that are due. So ESG is used for both preventing the eviction from occurring as well as moving the family into a new home.
There is not just one agency in Kanawha County that provides eviction help. Instead it is a partnership of different groups. In fact, the list may change each year based on funding levels. For a referral, dial 304.414.4405. All of the information is given at no cost to the resident.
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