PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Denise Adoptante has been a landlord for four decades and tells 12 News she’s been trying to work with her tenant throughout the entirety of the pandemic.
But she hasn’t received a rent payment from him since last June.
“I’m trying to do everything I can not to evict him,” she explained. “But I can no longer afford to keep a tenant here that is not paying his rent.
In an effort to do the right thing, Adoptante and her tenant started applications for RentReliefRI, a federally-funded emergency rental and utility assistance program for both landlords and tenants.
However, Adoptante hit a road block when the online portal for landlords shut down.
“It’s just one frustration after another,” she said. “The only way for them to obtain the information they’re asking for is through this web portal, and it’s not available.”
Christine Hunsinger, chief strategy and innovation officer of Rhode Island Housing, said since RentReliefRI went live on March 31, roughly 4,500 applications have been started.
“Either the landlord or the tenant have begun that process,” Hunsinger said.
Hunsinger said they had to shut the landlord portal down in early April because it wasn’t working properly.
“I don’t think in the beginning we thought we would switch vendors,” she said. “I think we thought it was technical glitches and we thought it would be fixed, but very quickly figured out that we needed a solution that we could deploy quickly.”
The portal is now back up and running, but Hunsinger said those who’ve started an application should schedule an appointment with a representative by calling 1-855-608-8756 to prevent running into additional problems.
She also said they’ve increased staffing at R.I. Housing, all of which are standing by to help Rhode Islanders gain access to the financial assistance they need.
“We want them to make that appointment to have that step-by-step guide with somebody helping them making sure that we’re going through and verifying and making sure everything is right,” she said.
Hunsinger said it can take up to six weeks for applications to be approved. In about two weeks, she said there will be a section on the R.I. Housing’s website where people will be able to see data in real time.