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Program offers emergency assistance

April 26, 2021

By Lori Sand

A stack of past due billsJohnson County families still under financial strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic can stay in their homes, keep current on their utility bills and stay connected.

Relief funds are available through the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC) to applicants of the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program.

Kansas was one of the first states to fully launch its Emergency Rental Assistance program. KHRC issued its first batch of payments three weeks after the program‘s launch on March 15.

The KERA program offers tenants up to 12 months of assistance with current or past due rent and past due utility and internet bills, including electric, gas, water, wastewater, trash removal and home energy services. Renters can apply for assistance with all, some, or any one of the services offered.

Both tenant and landlord must apply online. If the applicant meets the eligibility criteria, KHRC will make payments on the tenant’s behalf directly to the landlord or service provider(s).

“Having reliable housing is a critical component in an individual or family’s safety net,” said Debbie Collins, director of the county’s Department of Aging and Human Services. “This assistance will help to stabilize living situations and allow the residents to focus on other important life activities, without the stress of wondering where they might be living the next month.”

To ensure applications are processed in a timely manner, applicants must provide copies of the following documentation:

  • Past due utility bill or overdue rent or eviction notice.
  • Signed lease identifying the residential unit and the rental payment amount.
  • 2020 Federal Income Tax Return as filed with the IRS. If tenant hasn’t filed 2020 federal income taxes, their W-2 wage statement and all IRS 1099 forms are acceptable.
  • Proof of identification, including a current state-issued photo ID, court filing notice, or mail from a federal, state, county, or city agency displaying rental unit’s address.

To learn more and apply for KERA assistance, visit the KHRC website at kshousingcorp.org/emergency-rental-assistance/. For people in Johnson County needing assistance filling out the application, they should call United Way’s 211 helpline and they can arrange for that assistance.

Lori Sand is the senior public information officer at the Johnson County Manager’s Office.