This State Just Turned Down $146 Million in Stimulus Funds

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  • Arkansas recently rejected a pile of aid for rental relief purposes.
  • It's not the first state to go this route.

It's a move some residents won't be happy with.

Since the start of the pandemic, many people have fallen behind on their rent payments. And while the economy has improved since 2020, many people's personal financial situations haven't. That means a lot of people still owe their landlords money -- and are at risk of being evicted until those debts are settled up.

Now the good news is that there's been a lot of money -- roughly $46 billion worth, in fact -- available to struggling tenants in the form of federal rental assistance. That money was approved as part of the last two stimulus bills that were signed into law.

Many states have done a great job of dishing out rent relief funds to residents in need. But at this point, many are also out of money and cannot accept new applications for rental assistance.

Meanwhile, some states are still being offered additional rent relief funds. But that doesn't mean they're accepting that money with open arms.

Arkansas rejects rent relief

Last week, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that the state will not be accepting most of the $146 million in rental assistance funds being offered to it. The reasons boil down to the state's low unemployment rate and generally strong economy.

Arkansas isn't the first state to say no to rent relief. Recently, Nebraska rejected a round of aid as well.

Meanwhile, it's not just a strong state economy that prompted Arkansas to say no to that aid. Governor Hutchinson pointed to the fact that the state has rental assistance programs that were in place prior to the pandemic for the purpose of promoting housing stability among residents. As such, he feels that taking federal funds isn't necessary.

On the one hand, that move can be seen as a good thing. Hutchinson could've easily said yes to that money but instead acknowledges the state isn't necessarily a needy recipient of it. On the other hand, some advocates in Arkansas claim that rejecting the federal money could make it harder for struggling families to stay in their homes.

While many Americans have recovered from the blow the pandemic dealt them, many are still struggling today, especially in the wake of higher living and gas costs. And so it's easy to see how a round of federal funding might help ease certain burdens for cash-strapped households with little to no money in savings.

Some states are gladly accepting aid

While Arkansas and Nebraska may have turned down federal rental assistance funds, other states, like New York, New Jersey, and California, are getting additional funds to help struggling renters catch up on housing payments. In fact, the federal government has been steadily clawing back funds from states that didn't spend their rent relief money in time and reallocating it to states that need that money the most.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. But the hope is that the states giving up or losing rent relief funds aren't hurting residents in the process.

It's true some states simply have a larger share of renters than others, and that those are the states that may need more of that aid. But ultimately, there are renters everywhere, and it would be a shame for anyone to lose their home due to an inability to pay rent.

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