Arlington adds staff as millions worth of rental assistance goes unused

The city of Arlington is adding to its staff as it expects more people to sign up for millions of dollars’ worth of unused rental assistance.

Renters and landlords are allowed to sign up for a slice of federal money to help keep people in their homes, and officials are seeking out those who might not know the help exists.

A Justice of the Peace court judge on Tuesday gave Charlotte Hawkins a one week reprieve before allowing her landlord to kick her out of the house she’s rented for six years. She’s hopeful about a pending emergency rental assistance application.

"He said let me give her one week and give her the number to the Arlington Housing Authority," Hawkins said. "I called as soon as we hung up, like he told me and I left a message. And my daughter because it’s in me and my daughter’s name, she called and left a message as well. And we still haven’t gotten a call back."

The city of Arlington has over $20 million in federal funding to help people like Hawkins. A rental assistance application fair at an Arlington apartment complex is one way the city is trying to get the word out.

"In the first round we received $12 million. In the second round we got $9.5 million, so about $21 million altogether," said Mindy Cochran, Arlington’s Executive Director of Housing.

Cochran says, to date, the city has dispersed less than $1 million of that money. 

FOX4 asked if the city is actively trying to identify people with pending applications who are also facing eviction in courts. 

"They are providing us with all of the evictions filed filings. As soon as we get that list, almost on a daily basis, we mail an application to that tenant because we don’t have any other way to reach them," Coachran said.

Cochran, whose department has hired 12 new staffers to work pending applications, says they are in turn updating the courts on specific cases.

"What we’ll let the court know is we have an application and it’s not complete. We may be missing some documentation. It’s not complete but will let them know there’s nothing in the file that leads me to believe they won’t be approved," Cochran said.

Cochran says they’ve received just over 200 applications and 63 of those have been approved. Hawkins is hoping within one week she’ll be approved as well.

"I’ve been blessed to find another job, but it’s that I’m still playing catch-up right now," Hawkins said.