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Washington County Rental Assistance Program winds down leaving people to figure out how to pay rent

Over 3,000 Washington County residents participating in the Rental Assistance Program received a letter saying the program had insufficient funds.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Washington County residents who thought their rent would be paid through may are now trying to figure out how they will pay their rent or face eviction.  

“I completely disassociated for probably two days and had a panic attack about it,” said Amare Roush. 

Fayetteville resident, Amare Roush received 6 months of assistance from the Washington County Emergency Rental Assistance Program. They first got a letter saying that March rent assistance would be late, then on April 1 another letter saying April and May’s rent weren’t going to be paid either even though it was approved. 

“I just ignored it at first to see if there was a clarification or something later but then my landlord called me and told me that it had been confirmed with them that they were not going to get paid for the 3 months and I know owned not only this month’s rent but last month’s rent as well,” said Rousch. 

Roush is just one of the more than 3,000 Washington County residents that have been receiving rental assistance from the program. The county was given more than $12 million from the federal government in two rounds of the program. Roush worries for other people in a similar situation. 

“I have a great landlord where I live, so I’m not getting evicted and they are working with me,” said Rousch. 

Washington County sent out a letter on April first saying the county could no longer process or approve any more requests for assistance due to insufficient funds. It goes on to say that March’s rent would be paid but they didn’t know when and there is no funding guaranteed. Washington County Judge Joseph Wood says the federal government had still not released those funds in February that were needed to may march rent. 

“We notified them in March again that April’s would be delayed as well as we are going to be ending the program because we have a lot of folks who are in the program already. The average tenant was receiving an average of between 5 to 8 months of rent,” he said. 

Wood says this program was meant to be temporary but these funds not being released is an issue all across the country. 

“We’ve been in contact with our constitutional legislative branch, congressmen, and senators to make them aware and they are aware, they also know. Again, it’s across the country, people are all saying the same thing, when is that money going to be released and no one knows,” he said. 

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville is holding a fundraiser on Facebook to help these people who were counting on the assistance program to pay their rent. So far, the donations from the community have been able to pay seven families' rent. They ask for donations, so they can help more families. 

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