NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — The coronavirus pandemic has many Arkansans struggling to pay rent, but there is some relief.
Counties across Northwest Arkansas received money to help its residents stay in their homes during these times. It’s all part of a federal program for emergency rental assistance.
Benton County Judge, Barry Moehring said it’s working with Hark at Excellerate Foundation to manage the application process.
This money is only for people facing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are income restrictions based on your household size and there will be priority given to those who have been out of a job for the past 90 days.
“Rental assistance is huge, we are talking about the roof over people’s heads. So, to the extent that we can keep people out of an eviction or keep a roof over their heads, we are happy to play a role in that,” said Moehring.
The money is paid directly to landlords, who must also agree to participate in the program.
Moehring said the goal is to get the funds to those who need it as quickly as possible. He also notes that Hark at Excellerate Foundation can also connect people with other resources like food assistance.
To apply for these funds, fill out the contact form on harknwa.com/getconnected or call 2-1-1.
Fayetteville Housing Authority, Executive Director, Angela Belford said the Fayetteville Housing Authority received $1.5 million of the funds and to goal is to have the applications process up and running this Thursday.
The city of Springdale which has its own housing authority also received $1.5 million. No date has been released on when its application process would begin.
That leaves $4.1 million.
Belford said community organizations like the Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese, LatinX advocate groups or St. James church which already offers rental assistance are being encouraged to apply for those funds. The goal is for the rental assistance to have more reach.
Washington County, County Attorney, Brian Lester said landlords and renters can both apply and the money is paid directly to landlords.
“This money is not eligible for mortgages. It has to be rental or rent payment and then there’s a percentage of the median average income for the area that you have to meet,” said Lester.
There will be priority given to some groups like those facing homelessness, elderly people, and households with children who meet the income requirement.
For those who already live in subsidized housing, under housing authority, Belford said they are not in the initial priority group. They are asked to call and report their income changes so adjustments can be made to their rent or they can apply for a hardship waiver.
Belford said that once 75% of the money is spent there is a provision for the county to apply for more funds.
Applications are open and are on a first come first serve basis, until funds run out. All of the federal money needs to be used by the end of the year.