Economy

Providence Stimulus Checks For Renters: Low-Income Tenants To Get Free Legal Services

Evictions are on the rise again, pushing several states and cities to come up with financial assistance for renters.

The city of Providence, Rhode Island is the latest to come up with stimulus checks for renters.

The Providence stimulus checks for renters, however, wouldn’t offer financial assistance to renters. Rather, it would provide low-income residents facing eviction access to legal counsel.

Providence Stimulus Checks For Renters: Who Will Get Them?

In August, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza announced a new Providence Eviction Defense program.

This program will be funded by $600,000 that the city got from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was approved last year.

“As a former eviction defense attorney, I have seen firsthand the difference having a lawyer can make in someone sleeping with a roof over their head or on the street,” Mayor Elorza said in a press release.

The Providence Eviction Defense program would be managed by Rhode Island Legal Services in partnership with the Rhode Island Center for Justice, Direct Action for Rights and Equality and HousingWorks RI, a clearinghouse of information about housing in Rhode Island at Roger Williams University.

Providence will run the program for a year, providing low-income residents with legal defense services in housing court to help them prevent eviction.

Those who earn 65% or less than the area median income or live in a Providence qualified census tract are eligible for these Providence stimulus checks for renters.

Residents who are facing eviction can apply for this program online. Applicants can also contact Rhode Island Legal Services at 401-274-2652, or visit the Tenant Help Desk in the Sixth District Housing Court in Providence.

Not The First Time

Providence came up with a similar program at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020. The program was funded by the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act), the first stimulus program in response to the pandemic.

At the time, the city used $1 million it got to establish a Collaborative Housing Program to assist families with eviction defense and rent relief. The program provided legal services to 775 families facing eviction.

“I am happy to be building on the prior successes of our eviction defense work, especially in the midst of our state’s current housing crisis, to help our city’s most vulnerable residents to stay in their homes and have access to the resources they need,” Mayor Elorza said.

According to HousingWorks RI, Rhode Islanders spend more than 30% of their income on housing alone. It is expected that the new program would offer assistance to about 1,300 residents.

Mayor Elorza says there is “no reason” why the state government can’t implement a similar program at the state level.

On the other hand, there are many who believe that more affordable housing is needed in addition to these programs to help residents.

This article originally appeared on ValueWalk

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