New program means to house those who may be homeless due to COVID-19 in Geary, Riley counties

Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 11:23 AM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - A new program for KERA-approved residents in Geary and Riley counties will help provide stable housing for those who may have seen homelessness as a result of hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manhattan Housing Authority says it will launch the Bridge to Housing Stability program with the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance program administered by the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation. It said the purpose of the grant is to support programs in communities that work to prevent eviction and help ensure long-term housing stability.

MHA said BHS applicants are required to be referred by the KERA program in order to get additional homeless prevention and case management services.

The Housing Authority said the new program establishes three new full-time Case Managers and part-time Peer Mentor within the agency. It said the BHS program wants to leverage over $2 million in federal and state funds to quickly rehouse and stabilize KERA-approved residents that may experience homelessness as a result of the hardships of COVID-19 in Riley and Geary counties.

MHA said the first phase of the program, the rollout, is focused on the capacity of building new staff, training, technology updates and general preparation to respond to a housing crisis. Additionally, it said program staff will start to develop resource networks and establish positive relationships with property owners interested in being a bridge to housing stability partners.

According to MHA, the program is a Housing First Model with Strength-Based Case Management and is meant to serve renters in Riley and Geary counties who have been approved at the state level for KERA assistance and now face eviction and homelessness.

In order to qualify, the Housing Authority said the following requirements must be met:

  • Be a Riley or Geary County resident
  • and meet the eligibility criteria as a KERA referral*
    • MHA will not provide direct KERA assistance until after an applicant is approved and referred by the state.

MHA said the goal of the BHS program is to prevent homelessness or instability resulting from hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic at the local level. It said program oversight is conducted by the Executive Director of the Manhattan Housing Authority.

Services offered through the BHS program are as follows:

  • Strength-Based Case Management
  • Housing Stability Planning
  • Rental Assistance and /or Rental Arrears
  • Utility Deposit Assistance
  • Rental Security Deposits
  • Emergency Hotel/Motel Vouchers
  • Internet Service assistance

MHA said the program will result in stable housing for families, timely rent payments, a local liaison for KHRC to approved KERA applicants and support through direct strength-based case management. It said the program is just one way to provide a path to self-sufficiency to prevent and end homelessness in the region.

MHA said Bridge to Housing Staff includes the following:

  • Karen Martinez – BHS Case Manager (Manhattan)
  • Natalie Waldo - BHS Case Manager (Junction City)
  • Kelly Stebbins – BHS Case Manager (Riley County)
  • Romeo Vega - BHS Peer Mentor / MHA Resident Services Coordinator

For more information about the BHS program, the KERA program or MHA, click HERE.

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