‘It was terrible:’ RI woman turns to 12 Responds for help after struggling with rent relief program


EAST PROVIDENCE R.I. (WPRI) — RentReliefRI is a federally funded program that says it’s helped more than 2,600 Rhode Islanders with rent or utility payments as of Wednesday.

But a West Warwick woman wrote into 12 Responds saying the whole process was extremely frustrating.

“It was terrible,” Katrina Nerney said, describing her experience applying. “One person will tell you something’s fine, and then when you call next time, no one has any idea what you’re talking about.”

“If I didn’t reach out to you [12 Responds], then I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere in the first place,” she added.

Nerney said she applied for both rent and utility assistance back in June after losing about a month’s worth of rent.

“My kids were sick, I was sick, and then my husband was sick, so I had to take a lot of time out of work, so it was either get fired or leave,” she recalled. “That four weeks was really really hard.”

Nerney said her application was approved in August, but for the past six weeks, she’s been trying to find out why her landlord had not yet been paid.

“I emailed at least seven different times. Never heard back,” she said. “I called three days a week to try to get some form of information and no one ever responded back.”

That’s when Nerney reached out to 12 Responds. After we contacted RentReliefRI, she finally found out what was causing the holdup.

“My case has been waiting on one paper that I was not aware of,” Nerney explained. “Not from my end, not from my landlord’s end, but from my utility’s.”

The utility company has since submitted the document and RentReliefRI added it to her application.

RentReliefRI’s Chris Hunsinger said the program uses an application priority system because the federal government requires it. According to her, approval isn’t based on when applications are entered into the system.

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