NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The HOPE Application through the Metro Action Commission offers an option to reconcile rental debt for both renters and landlords in Davidson County even after the eviction moratorium expired in Tennessee.
"The funding covers all of the rental arrears plus late fees. It also covers utilities whether it is included in the rent or separate. If cases are in the courts and legal fees have accumulated, the funding allows us to cover that as well," explained Metro Action Commission Director of Communications Lisa McCrady.
So far, according to data from the Metro Action Commission, only about 38 percent of those who have applied for rental assistance have received it and 82 percent of the funds are spent. According to a study by Surgo Ventures, about 16 percent of renters in Davidson County are behind on their rent.
According to the Metro Action Commission which is administering the federal rental assistance in Davidson County, applicants may be deemed ineligible for rental assistance if they are actually able to pay their rent, they were not financially affected by COVID-19 or they are not residing in Davidson County.
Those who applied and are still waiting on funds to process may be waiting on a signature, missing documentation, have a delay at their bank or have typed in inaccurate contact information and the Metro Action Commission encourages those applicants to update their portals.
Both renters and their landlords must fill out their portion of the application in order for the application to be processed.
"Nationwide, there is a rent debt of about $72 billion," explained Greater Nashville Apartment Association (GNAA) President Victoria Tobin. "About $70 million of that is owed here in Davidson County alone. So what landlords are facing is having to pay the mortgage on their properties, having to maintain those properties, keep them staffed keep things running as they should with no income. And so essentially what they're facing is a large mountain of debt, similar to what tenants are facing as well."
Tobin's organization supports the rental industry in the Nashville area and supports landlords with educational products and services.
"For now, yes, evictions are on the table, but understanding that for landlords, eviction is really the last resort. They really want folks to work together. Remaining in their homes is everybody's goal," said Tobin.
She said the GNAA aims at helping both tenants and landlords behind on rent know their options.
"This is an unprecedented situation much like everything that we've all gone through over the last 18 months," said Tobin. "Talk to your property manager, tell them what's going on, ask them for assistance work together to apply for the federal funding. It is not difficult. it's something that anyone can do. There's a lot of folks out there that can help. I'm sure your property managers even willing to help you."
Tobin explained in Davidson County there is about $70 million in outstanding rent which is part of the $72 billion nationwide rent debt.
She explained the worry goes beyond evictions and property managers being forced to sell due to the mountain of unpaid debt.
"If we're pricing folks out of being able to live in the communities where they work, that becomes problematic," said Tobin. "And so, really we want to make sure that we try to keep this market as stable as we possibly can. And the idea of a $70 billion debt is is really hard to, to overcome, and it will affect all of us, regardless of where we live."
Tobin said the change in Nashville's skyline that has occurred over decades could speed up and the next phase could happen much faster if the rental debt is not made whole, "Whenever there's disruption in the market, you, there are always opportunities for things to turn."
Therefore, Tobin said she hopes both renters and landlords behind on their rent will apply for the HOPE Program, "I believe that, you know, if we keep our focus on keeping people in their homes--that's really where we have to put our energy."
Click here to fill out the HOPE Application to apply to reconcile your rent debt.