Emergency rental assistance still available; guidelines changed to help more Kansans at risk for eviction

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The Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance program is accepting applications for rent, utility and internet assistance from tenants and landlords who have experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Known as KERA, recent updates have allowed the state to serve more Kansans, according to a news release from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation.

Here are the changes:
• Eligible households may receive up to 18 months of assistance — an increase from the previous 15-month maximum;
• Recipients may receive a lump sum of $900 in past-due or future internet assistance — an increase from the previous $750 limit; and
• Households that have endured financial hardship at any point during the pandemic may now qualify for assistance.

Previous applicants who have not reached the 18-month maximum are eligible to recertify for additional months of assistance.

Tenants and landlords can apply jointly online via the KERA application portal. Tenants will first need to answer pre-screening questions to determine their eligibility before completing the application. 

Applicants must meet income guidelines and provide the following:

  • Proof of identification
  • Signed lease or equivalent documentation
  • Documentation or self-attestation of housing instability
  • Documentation or self-attestation of financial hardship
  • Proof or self-attestation of household income

Households can check the status of their completed application and respond to communications by logging into their KERA dashboard. Applicants with additional questions can contact KERA customer service via email at kera@kshousingcorp.org or by phone at 785-217-2001. Callers, use option 1 for English and option 2 for Spanish. For more information, visit KERA on the web.

As of March 24, KERA statistics show residents in Douglas County account for 2,300 funded applications totaling $9.7 million in support with 2,400 applications still in process.

Officials estimate nearly 18,000 eligible tenant households in Kansas have benefited from $125 million in KERA funding, which has prevented 46,000 Kansans from experiencing evictions and utility disconnections. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates 34% of Kansans are renters.

The Kansas Housing Resources Corporation launched KERA in March 2021 with funding provided by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. Ongoing funding is provided through the American Rescue Plan Act.

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Tricia Masenthin (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at tmasenthin (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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