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$1.2M in housing, rental aid available in Springdale

by Laurinda Joenks | May 2, 2021 at 2:57 a.m.

SPRINGDALE -- The Springdale 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 the county received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act for housing and rental assistance, 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 had 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 day care 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 for 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 a 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. Applicants must show photo identification and meet federal income guidelines.

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

The Fayetteville Housing Authority has given out all the money it received, said John Berry, interim executive director.

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% went to residents living in unincorporated areas. The remainder went to applicants from Fayetteville and every small town in Washington County.

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