From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
Rental assistance is one of the best ways the government is helping people who have lost their jobs or businesses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Arkansas has plenty of funding for people who are behind in their rent because of financial problems caused by the coronavirus.
In fact, the state needs to get the word out that rental assistance is available. Arkansas has about $173 million allocated for rental assistance, but only $10 million has been awarded to people so far.
The program has benefited more than 3,200 households. More than 15,000 households have applied for assistance and are waiting for confirmation that they qualify.
It’s a fairly simple matter to determine whether you are eligible for rental assistance. First of all, if someone in your home is on unemployment, you may qualify.
If your total household income has gone down, you may be eligible.
Also, you qualify if someone in your household suffered significant financial loss due to the pandemic. For example, if they lost their job or if they had to pay medical bills because they contracted the virus.
Eligibility criteria also apply, but they will not exclude anyone but the most well-off families.
For example, a family of four living in Crittenden County will be eligible if their total household income is less than $54,950 a year. The people in your household who pay taxes will have to show proof of income.
Rental assistance can be used for up to 15 months of rent, incurred between April of last year and the final day of this year, December 31, 2021.
It can also be used for certain utilities, such as water, light bills and gas.
Landlords will be asked to sign off on your application, but if they don’t respond within 10 days the money will be sent directly to the tenant.
Rental assistance has proven to be a great help to those families hardest hit by the pandemic.
The state has 21 organizations helping people through the process. The one in West Memphis is at 870-732-7520. That’s the Community Development department.
In St. Francis County, if you’re at risk of eviction, call 870-802-7100. That’s the Crowley's Ridge Development Council.
In Lee County call 870-295-2597, the county DHS office. In Phillips County, call the DHS county office at 870-816-3200.
The state Human Services Department is handling the grants. If you get on the Internet and search for Arkansas rental assistance, the first link that pops up will be for the DHS rental assistance page.
Arkansas is trying to distribute these funds to people who need rental assistance, because the state is under pressure to use the money or send it back to the federal government.
We want to use every penny that is available, and we certainly don’t want anyone to be evicted or become homeless. That puts them at much greater risk of contracting the coronavirus, as well as other negative health outcomes.
This program is designed to help hard-working people who have suffered financially through no fault of their own. It’s not your fault if you contracted the Covid-19 virus.
Rental assistance can be a boost to the local economy, providing benefits to landlords as well as tenants.
So if you think you may be eligible, I strongly encourage you to take the time and apply for rental assistance.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.