Nearly $52 million provided to Kansans to help prevent eviction, utility shutoff

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 5:24 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Nearly $52 million has been provided to Kansas by KERA to help prevent evictions and utility shutoffs.

The Kansas Housing and Resources Corporation says the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance Program has provided over $51.9 million to communities throughout the state for relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, it said KERA has supported 23,834 residents of 9,220 tenant households and 3,786 landlords facing financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic.

Nick Baumgartner said when his small business began to flounder in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, he could not afford to pay his rent and was barely able to keep up with utility bills.

“I never had to ask for any kind of financial assistance before,” said Baumgartner, whose Topeka business served local restaurants. “But because restaurants were so negatively impacted by the pandemic, my profits suffered too.”

That’s when Baumgartner said his landlord suggested they jointly apply for KERA. After he received financial assistance, his landlord was made whole and Baumgartner was able to keep his business running, helping local restaurants bounce back from their own hardships. He has since reapplied for three prospective months of rental assistance.

The Kansas Housing Corp. said KERA provides rent, utility and internet assistance to homes financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Landlords and tenants apply through a joint application process and payments are made directly to housing and service providers. Once eligible, it said KERA applicants get help for any past-due amounts, they are eligible to recertify for three prospective months fo rental assistance at a time, for a total of up to 15 months of support.

The Corporation said recent program updates have streamlined the application process and provided additional resources for Kansans at risk of eviction:

  • Recent changes in Treasury rules allow KERA applicants to self-attest to eligibility guidelines, including household income, COVID hardship and housing instability, which eases the documentation burden and shortens processing time.
  • The new Bridge to Housing Stability initiative has partnered with community organizations to provide over $7.3 million to support those experiencing homelessness. Bridge partners use KERA funds to provide hotel vouchers, housing counseling, and rapid rehousing solutions to help tenants enter new leases with KERA funding.
  • KERA has prioritized applicants at imminent risk of eviction and utility shutoff, stopping 349 active convictions, and 1,900 utility shutoffs, and has restored utility services to over 100 homes.
  • KERA has partnered with local community organizations to provide free representation to applicants engaged in eviction proceedings, as well as program resources and training to attorneys and judges. These efforts have helped tenants avoid eviction and helped landlords avoid legal action.

Funded by the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations act of 2021, the Kansas Housing Corp. said it is the agency authorized to distribute the funds.

To learn more or apply, click HERE.

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