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Emergency Rental Assistance Program Unveiled by Nebraska Officials

Emergency Rental Assistance Program Unveiled by Nebraska Officials

An Emergency Rental Assistance Program has been launched by the State of Nebraska,  available to eligible tenants and landlords and funded through the U.S. Treasury as part of a federal coronavirus relief package.

The State’s program provides assistance for both rent and certain utilities, and is only available for renters and not homeowners, according to federal guidance.

Some localities in Nebraska are receiving federal funds directly, and they will operate rental assistance programs separately from the State.  These include the City of Lincoln, the City of Omaha, Douglas County, and Lancaster County.  Residents in these locations will need to apply through their jurisdiction’s program rather than through the State’s program.

The Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA) is coordinating with the State to administer the rental assistance program.  Shannon Harner, NIFA’s Executive Director, joined the Governor to discuss who is eligible and how to apply.  Starting today, Nebraskans can apply online at coronavirus.nebraska.gov.

 Shannon Harner: Emergency Rental Assistance Program

  • NIFA is the State of Nebraska’s Housing Finance Agency, and, as such, it is appropriate that we work in partnership with the State to ensure the success of this program.
  • It is our commitment to quickly communicate the availability and guidelines of this program to those most in need, in order to keep Nebraska renters safely housed, and Nebraska landlords able to pay the mortgages on their rental units.
  • The latest round of coronavirus relief funding provided Nebraska with $200 million of Emergency Rental Assistance funding.  Of this amount, $158 million will be administered and distributed by the State to persons in all counties other than Douglas and Lancaster, which, along with Omaha and Lincoln, received separate funds.
    • Applicants residing in these areas will have the ability to apply to those respective programs around the beginning of March, with more information to be provided as it becomes available.
    • If the separate area funds are fully exhausted, and need still exists in those areas, the remaining State fund will then become available to persons in those areas.
  • The State’s program provides assistance for both rent and certain tenant-paid utilities such as electricity, gas, water, sewer, and garbage services.
  • Application approval requires:
    •   A copy of the current lease with the applicant as a party to that lease.
    • Contact with the landlord for verification of current tenancy, amounts due, or other application information.
    • A demonstrated loss of household income as a result, either directly or indirectly, of COVID-19.
  • When an application for assistance is approved, payment will be made directly to the landlord or utility providers on behalf of the tenant.
  • Either the landlord or the tenant may apply for this assistance.  Both the landlord and the tenant will be required to verify information and provide relevant documentation.
  • Only tenants whose household income is verified as less than 80% of the average median income of their county are eligible for assistance.
  • During the application process, required documents will be uploaded directly to the portal.  The portal is mobile friendly to make the application process as easy as possible even for people without a home computer.
  • NIFA’s website (www.nifa.org) and YouTube channels will have additional training materials and webinars about the program.
  • A call center is available to provide assistance from Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm (CT) and, at least the first weekend, on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (CT).  The call center number is 1-833-500-8810.

The announcement of the program took place Monday morning during a Monday news conference with Governor Pete Ricketts.

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