Income

Providence stimulus checks for tenants: low-income tenants will get free legal services

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Evictions are on the rise again, prompting several states and cities to offer financial assistance to tenants.

The city of Providence, Rhode Island, is the latest to offer stimulus checks for tenants.

Providence stimulus checks for tenants, however, would not offer financial assistance to tenants. On the contrary, it would allow low-income residents facing eviction to have access to a lawyer.

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Providence stimulus checks for tenants: 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 the city received from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was approved last year.

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“As a former eviction defense attorney, I’ve seen firsthand the difference having an attorney can make to 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 operated by Rhode Island Legal Services in partnership with the Rhode Island Center for Justice, Direct Action for Rights and Equality, and HousingWorks RI, a Rhode Island housing information clearinghouse at the 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 who live in a qualifying Providence census tract are eligible for these Providence stimulus checks for renters.

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

Not the first time

Providence offered a similar program during the height 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 to establish a collaborative housing program to help families defend against evictions and provide rent relief. The program provided legal services to 775 families facing eviction.

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

According to HousingWorks RI, Rhode Islanders spend over 30% of their income on housing alone. The new program is expected to provide assistance to approximately 1,300 residents.

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

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