Benton County Judge Barry Moehring announced Tuesday (Feb. 2) a partnership with Springdale-based nonprofit Excellerate Foundation to manage more than $8 million in federal rental relief that is available to Benton County residents.
On Dec. 27, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 established a new $25 billion federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program for state, county and municipal governments with populations of more than 200,000 people. The funding is meant to assist residents living in rental properties who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to make their rental and utility payments.
Benton County received $8.36 million that can be distributed until Dec. 31, 2021. Hark, a division of Excellerate Foundation, will work with eligible households to connect them to ERA dollars and other resources, and payment will be made directly to landlords and utility companies on their behalf.
“We are excited to be leveraging our Hark division and technology to help the people of Benton County,” Jeff Webster, president and CEO of Excellerate Foundation, said in a statement. “Furthermore, our partnership with United Way/2-1-1 and others during 2020 gave all of us exceptional experience at providing this type of support. Working with various partners in the community will be a tremendous step in the right direction to provide stabilization to many in need due to the pandemic.”
To qualify, households must have an annual household income of approximately $60,000 or less depending on family size. Other eligibility requirements apply. Benton County and Excellerate are launching the funding as quickly as possible, according to a news release. To learn more or apply, click on this link.
“After a year of sacrifices and hardships, many of our fellow citizens are now facing stark choices about making rent payments, keeping the lights on or putting food on the table,” Judge Moehring said in the release. “By offering rental assistance to those in need, this grant will help many of our fellow citizens persevere through what we all hope will be the last few months of the pandemic. I appreciate our partnership with Excellerate Foundation to make this a solution to one of our most pressing COVID-19 related issues.”