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City of Little Rock announces housing grants amid coronavirus pandemic

Both grants involve three main components: rapid re-housing, street outreach, and homeless prevention.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Since COVID-19 hit, many people across our state have struggled to keep roofs over their heads, but help is on the way!

Kevin Howard, Housing Director for the City of Little Rock, said it's a problem many have fought with for the past several months. 

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"They're being displaced and they're having to go out on the street and find some type of emergency shelter to go to," he said. 

According to Howard, citizens throughout the capital city are not being able to stay within the four walls they call home. 

"We do receive those calls quite often and several times during the day," he said. 

Howard said since the pandemic, their office has seen an increase in need for rental assistance and services for displaced citizens. 

Thanks to a federally funded grant, it's a need the city can now fulfill. 

"It's a great component to have right now to be able to assist these citizens and if we didn't have this funding, we couldn't assist anyone that is being displaced from their home or being evicted," he said.

It's called the Emergency Solution Grant, or ESG. Back in July, the city applied and received two different types of grants: the ESG COVID grant and the ESG entitlement funding grant. According to Howard, one is worth $560,000 and another over $214,000. 

"I think it'll help in short term to help with rental assistance and help citizens not be evicted and being put out on the street and being homeless, so I really think it's important this funding came at this time," he said. 

Both grants involve three main components: rapid re-housing, street outreach, and homeless prevention. 

Howard said these components will offer a wide variety of services, like helping people relocate, assist in utility or rental bills, and connecting the homeless to emergency shelter. 

"We can provide that assistance to them. It could be for six months, it could be for a year until the pandemic ends," he said. 

To be eligible for the ESG COVID grant, you must make less than 50% of the area median income. For the entitlement funding grant, you must make less than 30%. 

This was a desperate need in the community, Howard said, and the city is ready to serve. 

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"We want to provide permanent housing to these displaced individuals in the City of Little Rock," he said. 

Howard is hopeful the money will come in the next three to four weeks. Once it is received, the city will announce details on how to apply.