Dear Governor Hutchinson:
As we work together as one Arkansas to collectively limit the impact of COVID-19, we respectfully request your action to ensure that residents who are already financially vulnerable are not exploited and
are able to rebound quickly to help restart the economy once the crisis passes.
As Arkansans continue to navigate this crisis, the Arkansas Asset Funders Network urges the Office of the Governor to ensure that all residents have the financial support needed to stay safe, either at home or at work, during this crisis.
To ensure Arkansans are able to survive and recover from the COVID-19 crisis, we ask that you advance the following protections while Arkansas is under the declared emergency:
- Promote certified Bank On Arkansas accounts as means for unbanked families to receive IRS economic impact payments in a timely manner
- Clarify that under state law the money individuals receive via the stimulus checks is exempt
from garnishment or collection efforts
- Place a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures
- Place a moratorium on debt collection efforts to state and local governments
- Strongly encourage lenders to be flexible and work with borrowers during this time, such as loan
deferments, waiving of fees, and other types of relief
The situation is dire. Even pre-COVID-19, over half of Arkansas households are unable to make ends meet for three months if their income is interrupted. For black households, it is over 73%. Arkansas is projected to lose 113,757 jobs by summer, and has already experienced more than 26,944 in unemployment claims since March 15.
The concern is not only insufficient income to cover basic needs like food and rent, but also the amount
of debt people already carry, such as medical and student loan debt. Even before this pandemic, over
39% of Arkansans had a debt in collections. Today, 26.5% of Arkansans are unbanked or underbanked,
meaning they are potentially struggling to manage their money remotely or are unable to receive wages, stimulus checks, and/or government benefits. COVID-induced defaults will cause long lasting damage, such as eviction, foreclosure, and damaged credit scores. This will prolong the devastation long after the crisis ends for everyone else since credit scores become barriers to housing, jobs, and affordable credit in the future.
In addition to these necessary consumer protections, we urge the Governor to ensure that stimulus
funds disbursed to the states through Congress’s bipartisan relief efforts be distributed in a way that
specifically includes low- and moderate-income people and communities.
Arkansas Asset Funders Network is a regional chapter of grantmakers who invest in opportunities for
low and middle-income individuals and families to build economic well-being. Members include private,
public, corporate, and community foundations, public-sector funders, and financial institutions who want to help Arkansans secure economic stability, for now, and for years to come. Thank you for your consideration.
We applaud your leadership during these uncertain times.
William J. Bynum, HOPE Enterprise
Mary Elizabeth Eldridge, Ross Foundation
Heather Larkin, Arkansas Community Foundation
Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
Ines Polonius, Communities Unlimited
Anna Beth Gorman, Women’s Foundation of Arkansas