Why Madison County’s rental assistance website shut down

The state of Alabama and City of Huntsville continue to offer rental assistance.
Madison County's rental assistance website was shut down.
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 9:21 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Rental assistance helped many families stay in their homes through the pandemic. Huntsville’s rental assistance program is still active but Madison County’s program is shut down.

Many people have tried to access the website but it’s been removed from the internet. The commission’s assistant finance director, Joseph White, says the program was active between July and December 2021. He said they kept the website up for a couple of months with a message informing viewers of the rental assistance change before taking it down completely.

The federal government allocated $5 million toward Madison County’s rental assistance program in 2021. Over 2,000 people applied for the program and 1,000 households received the relief money.

White says they prioritized families facing eviction. First, they gave money to households who missed rent, or arrears, then they were able to offer rental assistance to other families.

“The priority of the program was to get people caught up and to make those rental arrears payments,” White said. “If we had someone apply with three, four, five months of arrears, then they would be able to get that in one payment... Once those arrears were taken care of, any future payments were based on funding availability so some people throughout the program were able to get one two, three months of future payment as well”

Madison County Commissioner Phil Vandiver says they received another round of federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), but they decided to prioritize other projects and stop the rental assistance program. He says he thought other ventures deserved more attention because rental assistance was available through the state and the City of Huntsville.

He says the county received over $30 million in ARPA funds. He says they have not spent the money yet but they are discussing potential projects to fund like fixing roads, building a new courthouse or financially helping local non-profit organizations.