Hinds County, MS

Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) implementation, Hinds County has offered emergency relief to eligible tenants and landlords. The Integrity Group (TIG) was contracted to develop, implement, administer, and verify full compliance with all regulations for the Hinds County Emergency Rental Aid Program (HCERA). Funding is provided directly through the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program to the Hinds County Board of Supervisors. HCERA has made nearly $15 million available to assist Hinds County households that have been unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Upon the completion of ERA1 spending and in addition to their initial allotment, Hinds County was able to receive a portion of Treasury’s reallocated funds, consequently allowing more funding to be dispersed to those financially impacted.

Under this program, we developed branded paper applications and a branded online portal for submitting electronic applications and uploading required documentation from residents and landlords. In this portal, frequently asked questions were developed and continuously updated to mimic the fluctuating Treasury guidance. We have developed and administered many grant programs to provide relief and assistance to those financially affected. Within these programs, we have conducted outreach events, assessed programmatic operations to ensure expediency and efficiency, collected and processed individual applications, and performed validation reviews through payment initiation. We have received approximately 4,000 applications, awarding close to $15 million. The portal syncs with a real-time quick view dashboard to allow leadership to track grant disbursement performance. The online dashboard serves as our Case Management System, which receives all portal application information and uploaded documentation. Our dashboard is updated in real-time with status changes and reviewers’ comments documenting interactions with applicants throughout the application review process, also allowing applicants to track and view their status.

TIG provided training to Grant Specialists on the designated hotline that encompasses a trunked call system with voicemail and texting capabilities. Training also included assistance for in-person applications with a local team, utilization of checklists for qualifying applications to determine the eligibility of funds to be awarded, along with associated documentation to justify such requests. All programmatic implementations were performed following current and updated Treasury guidance. Our team integrates internal anti-fraud controls to prevent duplicate payments, overpayments and paying ineligible recipients while processing all payments to Landlords, Applicants, Utility Providers, and “other associated expenses” as allowable. TIG prepared complete monthly and quarterly reports and other reporting required by Treasury. Lastly, final reconciliation and reporting to Hinds County regarding program expenditures and balances of accounts.