Pulaski County residents facing rental assistance issues

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Bobby Smith says his hours have been cut since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

He said he recently bought a car to get to his jobs but he also knew he was not going to have enough to pay for his rent and utilities also.

Smith received an eviction notice that he owes around $4,500 for rent and late fees. He has a court date in October.

“My leasing manager said you could pay the whole amount and we can stop it but if you can’t we’ll have to evict you,” Smith said.

Like many other Arkansans, he said he would have nowhere else to go if he does have to move out.  He does not have any other family around after losing his mother to Alzheimer’s last year.

He applied for rental assistance through Pulaski County in May and he said he has had trouble uploading what is required for the program.

“They let me know I need to upload another document and I’ve been trying to upload it but for some reason, it’s locked, I can’t do it,” Smith explained.

Smith has said he has been corresponding through email with the county, but the responses have been very slow.

Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde said they are dealing with more applications than they had anticipated. 

The county has gotten 17,660 applications and has given out over $5.8 million of the $10.6 million for assistance as of September 24.  There are now 3,264 applications ready for review and only 1,141 have been denied.  The county currently has 1,095 undergoing review also.   

“You can just imagine the volume of email you’re getting every day,” Judge Hyde explained.

Hyde says the work must continue with volume like that. 

“It’s difficult to make the time to stop processing and call, you know, Mr. Barry Hyde with my password that I’ve messed up and now I’m locked out of the program,” Judge Hyde said.

Hyde says the staff of 12 employees are doing the best they can to make sure nobody is left out.

“I’m not going to tell you they were perfect in every case and I apologize to those who may have been disappointed that they didn’t get more personalized service,” Judge Hyde said.

Although that does not necessarily help Smith’s situation much currently, he is still holding out hope he can get assistance before he gets evicted from his apartment.

“Trying to keep my spirits high and go on about my day without thinking about my living situation,” Smith said.

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