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PATH offers rental assistance help in Smith County to those affected by COVID-19

Published: Jun. 1, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 11:20 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - In February Smith County was awarded $7 million from the US Department of Treasury to help with rental assistance. They asked PATH to help administer those funds and there are still funds to be distributed.

People Attempting to Help, also known as PATH, has stayed busy since mid-March helping those who need it in Smith County with rental assistance. So far they have been able to assist 276 families with rental assistance and 155 families with utility help.

“Smith County was given $7.03 million for distribution, and so far, we have administered $1.4 million and this has been since March 15. We have until September the 30 to spend down 65 percent of the grant, or the money is distributed through the state,” said Mark Richardson, the programs director at PATH.

PATH leaders said they’ve heard from tenants saying they’ve had trouble getting assistance from the state’s program Texas Rent Help. Smith County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Andy Dunklin has listened to many eviction hearings from those struggling and feeling defeated.

“Some of them mistook that for the Texas Rental Relief, which has been a burden for some folks to fill out online. It required a lot of documentation from both the renter and the landlord, and it just became burdensome,” Dunklin said.

However, if people stop into PATH or give them a call, they’ve got a team of people working to help screen to see if families and individuals are eligible and then provide them with the paperwork they need. It’s not just tenants that can benefit from this program.

“Most of the landlords we’ve dealt with have been wonderful and patient because they get anything that’s owed them back to March of 2020 and then forward for three months,” Richardson said. “So there’s a real good reason to work with us and work with our tenants.”

PATH officials say they want to thank Smith County for asking them to help distribute the funds. PATH has done rental assistance in the past, but not on the scale they are able to now with the funding they’ve received.

“What Smith County did by providing that funding directly to our local families has allowed us to say yes to those families if they’re eligible because the funding is there, and so that’s a really different thing than we’ve ever done at PATH,” said Andrea Wilson, PATH’s executive director.

To see if you are eligible for PATH’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program visit their website.

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