Mayor signs Sigh of Relief agreement to help those struggling financially from Covid-19

Richmond County

Augusta- The pandemic has caused many families in Augusta to go from living paycheck to paycheck, to not making ends meet at all… which is why you’ll find some living in motels like this one. Mayor Hardie Davis has launched a new rental assistance program to help… but some of those I spoke with say more could be done.

“You will see way more people are suffering, there are people that are living with other people there are families that’s living with family members that have a bumch of children, we need to try and figure thing out we need to do better than what we’re doing,” said Garian Henry of Augusta.

Garian henry says the covid-19 pandemic has made a tough situation even worse for people who are living paycheck to paycheck.

“You got some people that have nowhere to go so they go to the motels rooms with their children and it be 5 to 7 kids and you got to have all of them in one room and you can’t cook for them in the room,” said Henry.

But help is on the way.

“The emergency rental assistance program is designed to help those individuals and families not only remain in their homes but if their behind on rent this is an opportunity for us to help them during one of the most significant times that they have ever experienced,” said Mayor Hardie Davis.

City leaders call it the Sigh of Relief program. The U.S. Department of treasury gave 6 million dollars to help fund this project– but there are some requirements Augustans have to meet to receive this assistance.

Brittany Burnett president and CEO of United Way C.S.R.A says, “one of the biggest challenges is that there is an income eligibility, so for example for a family of 4 the income limit is 52, 700 dollars a year ,but that varies according to their family size”

Only renters living in Richmond County are eligible and it’s on a first come first served basis.

“So we’re not sure how long this money will last in addition it will take us a little while to determine what the average family needs assistance with three months of rent or 11 months of rent or a combination of all in between,” said Burnett.

There is a required home inspection as part of the program.

“One of the components is that we will go out and do a visit their home to make sure it is a suitable place for them to live in,” said Burnett.

Since the program opened there have been more than 800 applicants— and the United Way is asking for patience as they work to get through those applications.

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