The Tuscaloosa County Commission selected a local administration to designate rental assistance money in a special called meeting Thursday.

HORNE LLP was selected to administer this service via an online portal, with Community Services Program of West Alabama subcontracted for $150,000 to provide a physical facility for people who prefer face-to-face assistance.

Tuscaloosa County was previously awarded approximately $6.2 million as part of the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which includes the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport as well as all municipalities.

This comes up on the heels of the expiration of the eviction moratorium, which ends later this month. Those behind on rent can soon be evicted due to lack of payment, according to this order.

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Up till now, all local applications for assistance have been processed through the state. While some tenants have had success so far getting their rental assistance, many applications are still pending.

"The county hasn't had a program like this in the past, but we needed one given the unique circumstances," said Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge Rob Robertson. "Today's decision was merely the award of the administration."

Robertson told The Thread that the advantage of using HORNE is that they are already providing this service with the state, as well as several counties around Alabama. He said for Tuscaloosa to adopt this process would essentially be like "plugging and playing."

"This is a big step for making these funds more easily available," Robertson said. "It's just a lot of moving parts and we're moving through it."

From here, contracts must be signed, at which point the process to jumpstart this service will start for Tuscaloosa County.

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