LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new program started Monday helping Arkansans with their rent.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services will be administering the program called the Arkansas Rental Relief Program. The DHS received $173 million through the U.S. Treasury Department to assist tenants and landlords unable to pay rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Arkansas Rental Relief Program allows those who are below 80% of the area median income, which varies by county.
These are different funds from other rental assistance programs available, and DHS Director Mary Franklin believes it is another way they can help Arkansans who need it.
“To be able to help people in this new way is exciting for us and we’re glad this program has become available to help Arkansans who need it,” Franklin said. “So it is a higher income threshold available in this program, so there may be people this program can help that the other program may not be able to help.”
The program will provide assistance to renters for up to a 15 month period spanning from April 2020 until December 2021. It will also assist with utility payments but does not cover broadband, cable, or television bills.
Franklin says this is what DHS does, “What we do at Human Services everyday, whether there is a pandemic or not, is administer our programs and help people that need help. So to be able to help people in this new way is exciting for us and we’re very glad that this program has become available to Arkansans who may need it.”
DHS encourages renters and landlords to apply for aid at the same time since information will be required from both parties, such as bill statements for rent and utilities, proof of unemployment, and paystubs and W-2s.
DHS asks people to apply on their website or to call their newly created hotline number 855-RENTARK (855-736-8275) for assistance or to apply if there is no internet access in their home.
DHS says they will staff the hotline accordingly and it will operate Monday-Friday from 7am to 7pm and Saturday-Sunday from 9am-6pm. DHS estimates there will be plenty of inquiry into this new program.
“An estimated 56,000 households could potentially qualify and about 49,000 households of that amount would be at or under the income limit for the Arkansas Rent Relief Program,” Franklin said. “Of course, we will see as this program launches what the demand for the need is as we get applications.”
Residents in Pulaski, Benton, and Washington counties must go through their county to receive any aid, as those counties qualified to have their own funding.
DHS officials said they will supplement those counties when their funds are exhausted. For more information, head to AR.gov/RentRelief, or for a list of the community partners helping with application assistance, head to the DHS website at HumanServices.Arkansas.gov.