Originally published: December 1, 2021
$50 million in housing assistance still available for Omaha renters
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – $50 million could be on its way to Omaha to help renters that are still struggling to come back from the pandemic.
There’s a scramble inside Douglas County eviction court as volunteer attorneys work to keep people in their homes and COVID rental assistance is playing an important role.
“We see tremendous success from the parties that want to participate,” said Scott Mertz, Legal Aid of Nebraska.
Landlords and tenants can both benefit big by submitting an application.
“If you want to, both sides, tenant and landlord, go through this process, submit the documentation and wait in lieu of going the eviction route, you’re probably going to come out ahead,” said Mertz.
“It’s been a critically important part of our response to COVID and the impact it’s had on people’s lives here in our community,” said Omaha Councilmember Pete Festersen.
Councilmember Festersen says it’s going to continue to be critical.
“We’re still recovering from the economic impact of COVID and that may be the case for some time,” said Festersen.
In order to keep supporting that recovery, he says they’ll need more rental dollars.
“We effectively distributed almost $40 million of tenant assistance and housing assistance over the past several months and so we know we’re getting to the end of those funds,” said Festersen.
According to the State of Nebraska website, it’s doled out a fraction of its emergency rental assistance. Just over 11 of its $159 million.
“We don’t want to send money back to the federal government, so we have applied for that amount of money that hasn’t been used in the rest of the state of Nebraska,” said Festersen.
The state’s two largest counties, Douglas and Lancaster have been distributing funds separate from the state. Omaha would now like to tap some of those unused dollars.
“About $50 million we know could be used here and we hope to have good news on that shortly,” said Festersen.
There’s still money available.
“We encourage people to keep applying for those funds to make sure we use it all in the next few weeks,” said Festersen.
The bottom line is if you’re looking to apply for COVID rental assistance, the best place to start is the state’s website. It explains where and how to apply based on where in the state you live.