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Rental assistance could soon offer relief to some Wichitans

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Help is on the way for Wichitans who are struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic.

The City of Wichita is expecting to get $12 million in federal funding for rental and utility assistance.

Officials said they have applied and expect to hear more in the coming weeks.

Qualifying households must be in arrears on rent and utility bills in order to qualify and must have an annual income that is less than 80% of the area median income. Those unemployed for a full 90 days prior to the application also qualify but must have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

“The focus was where is the money going to come from next?” said Ashley Streid, resident.

That is the question many Wichitans have been asking themselves for quite some time.

“Right now, we are behind I think almost two grand in just housing expenses,” said one Wichita resident who did not want to be identified. “That’s not including utilities. Utilities, we’re probably behind about $300.”

The resident and her fiancé have been struggling to make ends meet and provide for their 6-month-old daughter since losing their jobs last year and unemployment benefits ending.

“Having to worry about how I’m going to pay this bill and that bill and pay my rent so that we don’t get evicted and so our bills don’t get cut off,” said the resident.

The family is hoping they will be able to get some assistance from the city.

“I really do hope I get accepted, just so I can get caught up on my bills,” said the resident. “Something could potentially get cut off. Not having electricity and stuff like that with a 6-month-old baby, that’s not okay.”

She isn’t alone. Ashley Streid’s family has also been hit hard, too.

“Not receiving the stimulus check, not receiving unemployment,” said Streid. “There would be a week or two where we would just arbitrarily wouldn’t receive it for whatever reason and we’d have to try to figure it out.”

The financial stress took a toll on Streid’s husband who had to seek mental health help. Streid said she’s hoping they can catch a break soon.

“Once you’re behind, especially on a single income, it’s really hard to crawl back to the top,” said Streid. “Every time you get there, something happens.”

Many families have stories just like these. All of them are hoping the relief from the city will help them get back on track.

“The possibility of any kind of help and crawling out of this burden, of course, gives us hope,” said Streid.

The assistance program can provide up to 12 months of assistance including rent and utility arrears and prospective rent and utility payments.

City officials said should funding allow, an additional three months of assistance may be available to stabilize a household.

Landlords and owners may also apply on behalf of a tenant as long as the tenant cosigns the application.

The city should have more information posted on its website and social media by next month. At that time, people can begin applying for the assistance.

Click here to visit the City of Wichita website.

For more information about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, click here.

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