LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Community Institute released a report Wednesday showing the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on renters.

The report specifically mentions a law that was passed in 2007 called the Arkansas Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. The point of the law is to hold both the landlord and tenant accountable to their lease agreements, and it requires tenants to keep their property in good condition while complying with housing codes.

Valencia White with the Arkansas Community Institute and the report both claim that it only protects one side.

“Right now, landlords and the owners of this property, they are the ones protected,” White said.

The report also claims Gov. Asa Hutchinson did not listen to requests for eviction prevention measures and instead relied on landlords to help renters during the pandemic. It also said the Arkansas Supreme Court complicated the protections of the federal government’s eviction moratorium.

During the pandemic, the state developed the Arkansas Rent Relief Program. Leaders set aside $173 million. The report claims some of those payments were often delayed or hard to access.

A spokesperson for the Department of Human Services provided a statement, saying that the program was successful in helping thousands of struggling families stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Through the Arkansas Rent Relief program in 2021 and 2022, the Arkansas Department of Human Services distributed approximately $100 million in federal funds to assist Arkansans with past due rent or utility bills,” the statement said in part. “While a program of this size and scope is no longer needed now that the pandemic is over, rental assistance remains available for Arkansans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless through the Emergency Solutions Grant administered by DHS to partner organizations.”