Assistance offered to residents of troubled Little Rock apartment complex


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Little Rock, Arkansas – The city of Little Rock, in collaboration with the court-appointed receiver of the Big Country Chateau apartment complex, is stepping up to provide aid to the remaining residents. Deputy City Attorney Alan Jones made a revelation on Thursday, announcing that the city and the receiver are presenting a dual offer to the tenants: rental assistance that could last up to six months and a financial boost of $1,000 to cover moving expenses.

Since June, the city has held a firm objective in mind: relocating all residents from the Big Country Chateau and subsequently shutting down the establishment. City Housing Director Kevin Howard, during a Wednesday interview, provided insight into the number of occupants. He noted that while there were 24 units inhabited in early August, that figure has now dwindled to 17.

In a court appearance on Thursday, Jones and Cody Kees, the legal representative for Texas-based receiver Sal Thomas, were present to apprise the presiding judge about the ongoing efforts to reposition tenants and ascertain the necessity for a further report. “Jones said all parties agreed another update should be presented to the court in 30 days.”

Sal Thomas has been at the helm of the apartment complex since February, responsible for collecting rent and utility payments from tenants. Since assuming the management of Big Country Chateau, Thomas hasn’t evicted any residents nor has he sought new leases for unoccupied units. However, he did express concerns via circuit court documents, highlighting that only a small portion of tenants have consistently made their rent and utility payments in recent months. An alarming figure was brought to light in a report filed by Thomas on Aug. 23 — a staggering $187,548 was owed in delinquent rent from the remaining tenants, with July collections from five residents only totaling $2,711.

The endeavor to secure new housing for the tenants of Big Country Chateau has met with several challenges. Kevin Howard elaborated on some of these challenges, explaining that a few tenants have specific accessibility needs due to physical disabilities. Meanwhile, others have past records of evictions or convictions, which potential landlords uncover during background checks. “If someone’s working check to check, it can be hard to pay those fees,” remarked Howard, emphasizing the city’s commitment to inspect each new unit and offer rent assistance for up to six months once tenants manage the application fee.

Lending a helping hand in this relocation process is 100 Families, an initiative part of the local nonprofit Restore Hope. They are working in tandem with the city to aid Big Country Chateau residents in their move. Kevin Howard also shed light on another helping entity: the Housing Authority of Little Rock, often recognized as the Metropolitan Housing Alliance. They are actively assisting in relocating tenants who are beneficiaries of public housing aid. Furthermore, in a collaborative gesture, the city has joined forces with a moving company to facilitate the transfer of tenants’ possessions, while Sal Thomas is generously chipping in with “$1,000 per household in moving expenses.”


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