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Arkansas won't accept $146 million in federal rental assistance

Governor Asa Hutchinson rejected $146 million of federal money for rent relief, but Arkansas will still be able to claim up to 39% of that amount.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Friday that the state will not accept $146,000,000 of Emergency Rental Assistance funds from the government.

He claimed the state doesn't need it right now, but there are others who don't agree.

"Our economy has returned, there's jobs aplenty out there," the governor said Friday. "We have existing programs in place for rental assistance that were pre-pandemic."

The governor announced this after sending a letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, saying that Arkansas may still claim up to 39% if it's needed.

Arkansas joins Nebraska as the only states to do this.

It's a lot of money that is no longer available, but the governor is right – there is still some money out there and available.

"We have other programs that the governor mentioned, there's more than $6.7 million in funds that are still out there," said Gavin Lesnick, Interim Chief of Communications for DHS.

Lesnick said now Arkansas is moving forward, meaning less immediate impact, but focusing more on long term help.

"They won't look the same as a rental assistance program where you're providing direct aid, but there will be a lot of money put toward that goal of making sure that folks are financially stable and have that assistance that they need," he said.

Not everyone is on board though. Some organizations, like Arkansas Renters United, say this is the wrong move.

"These things are just heartbreaking, and then to hear him say that... it was just unbelievable," said Joyce Jones, a volunteer with Arkansas Renters United.

She knows this is a decision that probably won't be reversed. While it's not something that makes her happy, it means they've got work to do.

"What he said, and everybody supports it, and there's nothing we can do," Jones said. "Then we'll just continue to do what we've been doing and try to help each person that comes to our door."

For rental assistance, click here to go to the DHS page for rent relief.

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