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Rental Assistance

Benton County residents in need of rental assistance due to the financial burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for new federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program.

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If you wish to speak to someone by phone, simply call 2-1-1.
dollar star Income Level

An applicant must have a household income at 80% or lower than the Area Median Income (AMI, see table 1) Table 1.

FY2021 Income Limits, U.S. Department of Housing & Human Services

dollar bag Financial Difficulty

Someone in the household has experienced at least one of the following due to COVID-19:

1. Is currently eligible for unemployment benefits
2. Or has experienced a reduction in household income
3. Or has incurred significant costs or financial hardship

house Eligibility

Has recently (in the last 60 days) contracted COVID-19 and can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability due to COVID-19.

You will be asked to provide SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS (e.g. layoff letter, rent owed statement, eviction notice, unemployment claim, tax documents, pay stubs, etc.)

ERA Information

Download Informational Flyer

ERA Graphics

**If in Washington or Madison County, contact Hark to get a comprehensive resource plan and get connected to rental assistance for those counties.
roof Benton County ERA Data

Over $14MM has been distributed to Benton County residents in need due to the financial burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic. Take a look at the numbers and learn more about where these dollars have been distributed. 

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Hark is a division of Excellerate Foundation, a community Foundation serving Northwest Arkansas.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program?

Benton County is partnering with Excellerate Foundation in managing the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program to help eligible households in qualifying areas who have been financially impacted by the COVID‐19 pandemic. Excellerate is utilizing its Hark division to administer the program for Benton County.

Who is eligible to apply for ERA?

An applicant must have a household income at 80% or lower of the Area Median Income (AMI)--roughly $60,000 a year or less for a household of four--as calculated for the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR HUD Metro FMR Area for 2021:

Priority will be given to approved applicants who have been unemployed for at least 90 days prior to applying or applicants that have a household income at 50% or lower of the AMI.  

What are the other requirements for ERA?

The applicant or someone in their household must have recently, within the last 60 days, contracted COVID-19. This applies for all ERA applicants, even if you have been approved for ERA assistance in the past. An applicant must also be able to demonstrate that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, someone in the household is eligible for unemployment benefits, has experienced a reduction in household income, has incurred significant costs, or has experienced significant financial hardship. The applicant must also demonstrate that the household is at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

What types of assistance are available?

Rental assistance is available in the forms of rental arrears (for first time applicants), rent payments currently due, utility arrears (for first time applicants), and utility payments currently due connected to the rental unit.

How do I submit an application for ERA?

You may submit a contact form by either at www.harknwa.com/getconnected or by calling 2-1-1. A Hark Community Liaison will then contact you directly to begin the application process.

Will I need to provide supporting documents with my application?

Supporting documents will be requested at the time of application and will vary depending on the answers provided. Documents may include proof of unemployment benefit eligibility, pay stubs, tax documentation, past due rental or utility notices, eviction letters, proof of a positive COVID test and more. This can be an at home test or test conducted by a medical provider.

What other information will you be collecting from me?

Hark and 2-1-1 are community agencies that seek to connect you to multiple resources, not just rental and utility assistance. Your Hark Community Liaison or 2-1-1 call center representative may ask for your basic information, place of residence, current or former employer, household income, and any other areas of need you may be experiencing. Hark and 2-1-1 are here to help, so this process is entirely confidential.

How will I be notified if I have been approved?

After completing the application process, applicants will be notified by their Hark Client Service Representative if they meet all eligibility requirements and are approved or not approved to receive assistance. You can check the status of your application by visiting https://harknwa.com/ns/erap-status/

If I live with a roommate or other families, can we both apply?

Only one application per residence will be permitted.

Do I need to have my landlord’s contact information when I apply?

Yes, you should have your landlord’s name and phone number or email address at the application stage.

Will the rental assistance payment be paid directly to me?

The funds may be paid directly to tenants only if the landlord will not provide a W-9 for payment.  We still must receive independent documentation of rent owed, proof of residence, etc.

What if I’m a landlord and have multiple tenants?

Please contact Hark directly at [email protected]. Landlords can refer tenants to the process and are also allowed to assist them in completing their applications.

I do not owe rent, but I will not be able to pay this coming month. Will I still be able to apply?

Absolutely. You can still apply if you have been financially impacted by COVID‐19 and cannot pay your upcoming rent.

If I am chosen to receive this rent assistance, am I obligated to pay it back?

You are not required to pay back any of this assistance.

If I am a tenant with commercial rent, will I qualify?

The program only assists eligible applicants with housing rental assistance, not commercial rent.

When can I expect my application to be processed and payment to be disbursed if approved?

Hark Community Liaisons will be responding on a first-come-first-serve basis with prioritization given to those who have been unemployed for at least 90 days prior to applying or applicants that have a household income at 50% or lower of the AMI. Hark CL’s will contact you as quickly as possible to begin the application process. Once your application is submitted, a Client Service Representative (CSR)will reach out to you about your application within 1-3 business days. You can check the status of your application by visiting https://harknwa.com/ns/erap-status/.

If I have a mortgage payment, do I qualify?

No, this federal program is only for rental units.

What if I live in another county?

Residents of Madison or Washington County should contact Hark to get a comprehensive resource plan and get routed to the correct distribution site in regard to rental assistance.

How long will this ERA program last?

The program lasts through September 30, 2022, or until funds run out.

Is there a way for me to fill out a paper application?

If you prefer to fill out a paper application, notify your Hark Community Liaison, and they will mail one directly to you.

Am I eligible for assistance under the new policy if I was impacted by COVID-19 before 1/1/22?

If an applicant was impacted by COVID-19 before 1/1/22 and has not already received emergency rental assistance from this program and is eligible, then an applicant may receive rental and/or utility assistance for arrears prior to 1/1/22 not to exceed 12 months. If an applicant was impacted by COVID-19 after 1/1/22, they will be able to receive up to one month of rental and/or utility assistance.

If I have already received assistance, can I reapply for additional assistance?

If an applicant has already received assistance and can prove eligibility, then they can apply for assistance.  However, assistance will be limited to one month of rent and/or utility assistance.

Does my landlord have to agree to participate in this program?

No, the applicant’s landlord does not have to agree to participate in the program. However, lease documentation, proof of residence, proof of rent due will still be required before application can be approved.

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