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Community organizations ask for help after Arkansas declines federal rental assistance

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that the state will not take the $146 million for rental assistance and will only take up to 39% of that amount.

ARKANSAS, USA — Arkansas is one of two states refusing the second round of federal pandemic rental assistance. 

Friday, April 22, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that the state will not take the $146 million for rental assistance, planning to only take up to 39% of that amount.

Arkansas Renters United Data Analyst Al Allen is calling for more rental assistance for Arkansans. 

"Prices a continually rising for the price of food, gas, and pretty much the existence in general,” Allen said. “I would venture to say rental assistance is definitely needed.”

In a letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Gov. Hutchinson says Arkansas will leave up to 39% of federal funds available if needed.

"And use that for programs that support housing stability," said Gavin Lesnick, Interim Chief of Communications at the Arkansas Department of Human Services. “Our economy is robust and we're at a point where we are looking to move beyond immediate rental assistance."

Lesnick agrees with the governor that the immediate need for assistance is declining. With $6.7 million still available.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church tries to act as a resource for renters facing evictions and says the governor is out of touch.

"Asa has two homes," said Pastor Clint Schnekloth of Good Shepard Lutheran Church Pastor. “So, he just doesn't know the realities."

This month alone, Good Shepard Lutheran is on track to raise $30,000 to help many with rent among other things.

"Utilities, food, that kind of thing," said Schnekloth. "That's only like 30 households."

He says he's unable to help hundreds more.

"It's frustrating that he's interrupting what's clearly aid from the federal government for people in need."

DHS is now directing people in need of assistance to community action agencies.

"To say that you protect families, you have family values and you are pro-life, you should be making live accessible."

The state funding application has closed. So, if you are looking for rental assistance, the best advice everyone can give is to look at county and city funding.

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