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Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

New rental assistance program launching across Arkansas

The "Arkansas COVID-19 Fresh Start Housing Stabilization Program" is designed for low to middle income Arkansans who need a boost, so they won't get evicted.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — If you've fallen behind on rent because of the pandemic, more help is available for you!

Terry Bearden, Executive Director for Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association, said a new program can give Arkansans the boost they need. 

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"It really just makes sense to try to promote stability during this pandemic the best that we can," she said. 

It's called the "Arkansas COVID-19 Fresh Start Housing Stabilization Program."

Bearden was contacted several months ago by some state legislators and housing advocates. 

"This is a brand new program. It was developed in partnership with the CARES Act Steering Committee and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission," she said. 

The Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association has received $10 million in federal grant funds to provide rental assistance to low to middle income Arkansans. 

According to Bearden, it will also help landlords who are suffering during the pandemic due to families who are struggling to pay their rent. 

"We did recognize that there would be a two-fold benefit to this program," she said. 

The win-win situation serves all 75 counties across the state. 

The money given to each applicant will vary depending on location, according to Bearden.

"It is based on 2.5 months, up to 2.5 months, of past due rent. Also, up to what is called the 'fair market rent value,'" she said. 

Bearden said to qualify, applicants must earn an income at or below 80% of the area median income and provide documentation proving they're behind on their rent. 

"We're going to make sure that there is a lot of integrity built into the program, so that we serve the Arkansans who are in need of this type of assistance," she said. 

At the heart of it all, Bearden said the program has one primary goal.

"Prevent homelessness," she said. 

To apply, head to Arfreshstart.com. The program is set to start on Monday, Nov. 9, and will last as long as funds are available in each county. 

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To qualify, applicants must:

  • Be a full-time Arkansas resident
  • Have an income at or below 80% of the area median income 
  • Prove they're behind on their rent. 

Applicants must provide the following documentation to qualify: 

  • ID 
  • Verification of past due rent notice or eviction notice
  • Lease or rental agreement 
  • Prior month's proof of income 
  • Demographic information for all household members 
  • CDC Eviction Moratorium Declaration signed