Dec 7, 2021 - COVID

Arkansas steps up rental assistance distribution

Illustration of a folder with a dollar bill sign cut out of it. 
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Almost 30% of Arkansas' federal rental assistance funding — nearly $60 million — has now been committed or distributed to those in need.

Why it matters: An estimated 58,000 Arkansans are behind on rent, with total debt valued at $93 million.

State of play: Arkansas received more than $201 million for federal emergency rental assistance. It was initially supposed to distribute by Sept. 30. Any funds left after that date were to be taken back and reallocated to states that needed more money.

Yes, but: Even though Arkansas had only distributed 15% of its funds at the end of September, none of the unspent money has been reallocated outside of Arkansas, a Department of Human Services spokesperson tells Axios.

  • This may be due to a change in the U.S. Department of the Treasury's reallocation guidance in October, which allowed for an "improvement plan."

Flashback: Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced such an improvement plan in early September to streamline the process that had created a bottleneck.

  • A requirement that landlords submit paperwork on behalf of tenants also was dropped.

Distribution of assistance money picked up significantly within a couple of weeks of the announcement.

By the numbers: Arkansas received four buckets of emergency rental assistance based on population. Benton, Pulaski and Washington counties received a combined $27.3 million, managed by various local agencies. The state received $173.7 million, managed by the Department of Human Services (DHS).

  • Benton County paid $11.68 million to more than 2,100 households as of December 5.
  • Pulaski County paid $9.3 million to almost 1,500 households.
  • Washington County paid $3.9 million to more than 1,700 households, as of Oct. 31.
  • DHS paid $43.5 million to nearly 20,000 households as of Nov. 29, up from $13.3 million on Sept. 24.

The bottom line: Anyone in Arkansas needing assistance with their rent is encouraged to apply for funds with DHS.

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