Wisconsin has done something tangible to help people behind on rent after losing jobs thanks to coronavirus. A financial assistance fund.

In Arkansas, the worst state for tenants in the United States, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has refused to provide any forbearance for tenants in such circumstances, preferring to rely on the good nature of landlords. Some landlords indeed have tried to help. But eviction proceedings and worse continue apace by many others.

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Here in Arkansas, the top legislative priority appears to be protecting the business lobby from lawsuits. Not rental assistance. Not a better unemployment program — longer and with recognition that some have reasons to be reluctant to return to unsafe workplaces. Not safe voting. Not tax relief for working poor.

Here from a Madison newspaper is a report on meaningful outreach to the hardest-pressed (and it helps landlords, too).

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Earlier this week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced the establishment of the $25 million Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program for state residents who have lost income during the coronavirus pandemic.

As the state begins to reopen in phases, many renters who have lost jobs but had the benefit of a moratorium on evictions are in need of assistance to get caught up on past-due rent. Many landlords, who themselves are facing mortgage payments and property maintenance expenses, need that revenue.

Through the Department of Administration, the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program will provide direct financial assistance for owed rent, security deposits and wrap-around services for program eligible residents using federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars.

Nice idea. In Arkansas, the state is shoveling $147 million to businesses that reopen.

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