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'Arkansas Fresh Start' offers rental assistance to those affected by COVID-19

The Arkansas Fresh Start program can provide up to two and one-half month's rent to eligible Arkansans with a household income at or below 80% of their area's median

ARKANSAS, USA — The Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association (ACAAA), and the state's Community Action Agencies, will soon be offering rental assistance to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through a new program called "Arkansas Fresh Start."

The Arkansas Fresh Start program can provide up to two and one-half month's rent to eligible Arkansans with a household income at or below 80% of their area's median income, according to the ACAAA. 

To be eligible for the Arkansas Fresh Start program, an applicant must be a full-time Arkansas resident; not being able to make his/her rental payment due to COVID-19-related issue; and having a landlord's stated willingness to accept the payment. 

The program was made possible by a combined $10 million in grants received through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and the Arkansas CARES Act Steering Committee. The ACAAA is expected to start dispensing the aid in November 2020. 

Once the program has launched, those interested will be able to apply through their local Community Action Agency. Every county in Arkansas is served by a Community Action Agency. 

“The Fresh Start Program is a great way to leverage funds that will help both tenants and landlords during these challenging times,” said Mike Preston, Arkansas Secretary of Commerce. “We want to improve the lives of working Arkansans to every possible extent, and providing resources for short-term rental assistance is one of the ways we can accomplish that goal. I appreciate the Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association for their partnership in this initiative. The local Community Action Agencies will serve a vital role in connecting these resources to those who need it.”

“Arkansas is facing a growing crisis in rent arrearages. The devastating economic and health effects of COVID-19 have resulted in a deeply concerning number of Arkansans falling dangerously behind in their rent payments,” said Terry Bearden, ACAAA chief operations officer. “The U.S. Census Bureau Pulse Survey estimates that as many as 139,000 Arkansas households are facing the possibility of not being able to meet rent payment obligations due to the economic and public health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Once the program is underway in November, those interested will be able to visit ARFreshStart.com in order to locate their area Community Action Agency and complete an application.

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