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Federal funds to help with hunger, overdue rent and mortgages flow into Charleston County

LEDE sweet potatos.jpg (copy)

Families in cars wait in line for food as Paige Rizzo with the Lowcountry Food Bank gathers sweet potatoes to hand out at Revive Church on Remount Road on Thursday, April 2, 2020, in North Charleston. The food bank is among Charleston County organizations that just received more federal funding under the coronavirus response CARES Act. Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

More money is in place to help feed and house Charleston County residents struggling financially amid the coronavirus pandemic, including direct help with overdue rent and mortgage payments.

At Origin SC in North Charleston, money to help people catch up on housing payments had run out two weeks ago, but the nonprofit group just received $287,728 to financially assist people.

“We can help with up to three months of (overdue) rent and missed mortgage payments as well," said Kristin Bastian, Origin SC's grants and operations director.

Assistance tied to the new funding is available to people with much higher incomes than before. Instead of rent and mortgage help being restricted to those who earn no more than 30 percent of the area's median income, the limit is 80 percent of AMI — that's $64,800 for a family of four.

Charleston County residents who don't live in the City of Charleston, who have missed rent or mortgage payments, can call Origin SC at 843-628-5036 to seek assistance.

City of Charleston residents aren't eligible because the city received its own federal funding — $607,000, which was announced in April.

“If we did not get this money from Charleston County, we would not have been able to continue to help folks until after July when the state’s fiscal year starts over," Bastian said. “This money from the county helps fill in those gaps."

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More than $1.6 million has been distributed to nonprofit groups in the county. It came from the CARES Act, and made it's way from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to Charleston County, and then to social service agencies that had applied for funding. 

Most of the money will help feed and house people who have been struggling. Some of it will fund legal assistance for those facing eviction, and help people pay for prescription medicine.

In addition to Origin SC, large recipients of funding include One80 Place, which received $535,900 for rental assistance and homeless shelter operations, and Lowcountry Food Bank, which received $240,000.

Brenda Shaw, Chief Development Officer at Lowcountry Food Bank, said the organization had applied for grant funding to provide more services in rural areas, such as Awendaw, Hollywood and Johns Island.

“It will enable us to get more food into those areas," she said. “It’s a huge boost for us."

Shaw said Lowcountry Food Bank will distribute food through its network of established partner organizations and some new partners Charleston County had recommended such as the South Santee Senior Center.

Reach David Slade at 843-937-5552. Follow him on Twitter @DSladeNews.

David Slade is a senior Post and Courier reporter. His work has been honored nationally by Society of Professional Journalists, American Society of Newspaper Editors, Scripps foundation and others. Reach him at 843-937-5552 or dslade@postandcourier.com

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