New COVID rental assistant program to aid those struggling to pay rent

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association (ACAAA) says it will soon offer rental assistance to people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through a new program known as “Arkansas Fresh Start”.

The program was made possible by $10M in combined grants through the economic development commission and the cares act steering committee.

To be eligible, you must live in Arkansas full time and have been affected by a COVID-19 related issue. 

The program is expected to launch early this month.

You can read the full news release below:

(News release) — The Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association, Inc. (ACAAA) will soon begin offering rental assistance to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through a new program known as “Arkansas Fresh Start,” made possible by $10 million in combined grants received through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and the Arkansas CARES Act Steering Committee.

The program, which will be administered by ACAAA, is expected to begin in early November.

The Arkansas Fresh Start program can provide up to two and one-half month’s rent to eligible Arkansans with a household income at or below 80% of their area’s median income.

Once the program has begun, those interested will be able to apply through their local Community Action Agency (CAA). Arkansas has 15 such nonprofit CAAs, each of which provides assistance to certain portions of the state; every county in Arkansas is served by a Community Action Agency.

“The Fresh Start Program is a great way to leverage funds that will help both tenants and landlords during these challenging times,” said Mike Preston, Arkansas Secretary of Commerce. “We want to improve the lives of working Arkansans to every possible extent, and providing resources for short-term rental assistance is one of the ways we can accomplish that goal. I appreciate the Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association for their partnership in this initiative. The local Community Action Agencies will serve a vital role in connecting these resources to those who need it.”

“Arkansas is facing a growing crisis in rent arrearages. The devastating economic and health effects of COVID-19 have resulted in a deeply concerning number of Arkansans falling dangerously behind in their rent payments,” said Terry Bearden, ACAAA chief operations officer. “The U.S. Census Bureau Pulse Survey estimates that as many as 139,000 Arkansas households are facing the possibility of not being able to meet rent payment obligations due to the economic and public health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.”

To be eligible for the Fresh Start program, an applicant must meet certain criteria, such as being a full-time Arkansas resident; not being able to make his/her rental payment due to a COVID-19–related issue; and having a landlord’s stated willingness to accept the payment. Once the program is underway in November, those interested will be able to visit ARFreshStart.com in order to locate their area Community Action Agency and complete an application.

“We are thrilled to be part of this relief effort,” said Jennifer Welter, executive director of Conway’s Community Action Program for Central Arkansas (CAPCA) and president of the ACAAA Board of Directors.

“The Community Action movement has always been about helping people help themselves and giving them tools for developing self-sufficiency, so we feel honored to be able to play a role in providing the sort of assistance that’s so crucial to helping people maintain stability and security in the face of this unprecedented crisis.”

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