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Springdale Housing Authority offers rental assistance through CARES Acts

by Laurinda Joenks | April 29, 2021 at 7:30 a.m.
The construction of a 468-unit apartment community is visible Thursday, January 14, 2021, near Arvest Ballpark in Springdale.(NWA Democrat-Gazette/David Gottschalk)

SPRINGDALE -- The Housing Authority has $1.2 million to help residents in Washington County facing eviction because of covid-19.

The money comes from $7.1 million of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act money earmarked for housing and rental assistance the county received, said Brian Lester, the county attorney.

The Quorum Court in February allocated $1.5 million each to the Springdale and Fayetteville housing authorities to provide emergency rental assistance, he said.

Those with rent payments overdue because of covid-19 can get help for up to 12 months, said Mary James, executive director of the Springdale agency.

"The purpose of the program is to keep people in their apartments, to keep them from being homeless," she said.

James said the authority has spent $283,000 of the money. It has helped 64 families, and 12 applications wait for approval.

"We've been writing $3,000 checks, $4,000 checks, $5,000 checks, but it's not going away very quickly," she said.

The authority as of March 31 has paid $84,180 to landlords and $17,959 to utility companies, with an average of $3,500 spent per family, the agency reported to the Quorum Court.

James said she worries people think they need a positive result on a covid-19 test to qualify for the money.

Money is available to those who have had work hours cut, been laid off, quit a job because daycare wasn't available when schools closed, were off work because of quarantine and more.

James said the money can help families get internet access for students to use for online learning.

The money will pay for rent in arrears and in advance and utility bills past due, she said.

"You just have to prove why you need it," James said. "Every case is individual."

Application for the relief money includes completing an application form, available at the Housing Authority office and on its website. In addition, applicants must provide proof of need through past due notices, eviction documents and notices from employers regarding job status are required. Applicants must show a photo identification and meet federal income guidelines.

James said the applications are available in English, Spanish and Marshallese, and the Springdale agency has staff who speak and translate those languages.

John Berry, interim executive director of the Fayetteville Housing Authority, said the authority has received more qualified applicants than it has money available.

The Fayetteville office allowed just two weeks for applications and received 1,062.

"We had more qualified people than we had money," Berry said.

He said 12% of the Fayetteville authority's money went to applicants from Springdale. Another 20 percent went to residents living in unincorporated areas. The remainder went applicants from Fayetteville and every small town in Washington County.

Quorum Court members decided to hold $4 million of the CARES Act money because the future of the pandemic remains unknown.

County officials will continue to get word of the rental assistance money out, Lester said.

If the money is not spent by Dec. 31, the remaining portion will return to the federal government, he said.

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Rental Assistance

Springdale Housing Authority

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CORRECTION: John Berry, interim executive director of the Fayetteville Housing Authority, said the authority has received more qualified applicants than it has money available.


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