Emergency rental aid applications surge as thousands face eviction; Here’s how to apply

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – More Kansans need help paying rent as thousands face eviction.

Officials at Kansas Housing Resources Corporation, KHRC, said they’re seeing an influx of applications and receiving hundreds of calls a day.

According to the organization, more than 27,000 Kansas households are facing eviction.

KHRC Executive Director Ryan Vincent said the numbers are “terrifying.” As a result, the organization is ramping up efforts to get renters assistance as quickly as possible, bringing in more workers to handle the load.

“Each one of those are families. Each one of those have a home that may be lost in the near future. These are people that have jobs that have to have homes to be able to work,” Vincent said.

Since the federal eviction moratorium ended last month, families facing financial hurdles brought on by the coronavirus pandemic are now at risk of losing their homes. State housing officials are urging landlords not to evict, or they could miss out on those extra federal dollars and backpay to help with rent payments and continue their operations.

So far, KHRC officials told the Kansas Capitol Bureau that they had served more than 7,000 households, giving out more than $37 million in assistance through the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program. Currently, they said they’re also providing roughly $2-$3 million per week in rental aid.

This comes as some states have been slow to roll out funds, struggling with federal guidance that created a lengthy application process for renters. In August, the U.S. Treasury Department reported that only 11% of the tens of billions of dollars in federal rental assistance had been distributed.

The Treasury Department’s updated guidelines now encourage state and local governments to expedite the application process. It includes measures to reduce processing delays by providing more permission to rely on the applicant’s self-attestation without further documentation.

Vincent said the move has helped speed up the processing time for his team.

“Recognizing that the Department of Treasury is now allowing certain self-attestations, which allow us, in turn, to process applications much more efficiently, getting those dollars out the door to people in need,” he said.

In addition to implementing the new federal program rules making it easier for tenants to apply, Vincent said his team is working with service providers and applicants at imminent risk of eviction or utility shutoffs to keep Kansans in their homes and maintain access to essential services. The Executive Director said they’re also educating stakeholders across the state about the eviction process and partnering with the legal community to ensure that Kansas attorneys, judges, and court officials are aware of the resources available to help tenants remain in their homes.

The organization said the KERA program is currently slated to run through 2024.

To learn more about how to apply for KERA, click here.

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