Rental aid is available. Here’s how to access it

Looking for rental assistance? Here’s what you need to know.

You can request aid for rent and or utilities. Utilities can include: water, electricity, sewer, garbage services and up to $100 of internet services a month.  You can request aid for up to three months in advance. You can request aid for a motel or hotel room while you are waiting to find a new rental property. Aid is taking on average between 4-6 weeks to be approved and then there is a wait for those funds to be distributed to the proper party. It’s best to apply sooner than later.

Aid is allocated by county and city.

If you live in Lancaster County or Lincoln, you should visit: https://www.lincoln.ne.gov/City/Mayor/Housing-Utility-Assistance

If you live in Douglas County, but not Omaha you should visit: https://copeinfo.org/rent-assist/

If you live in Omaha, you should visit: http://macchconnect.org

If you live in any remaining county or city, you should visit: https://coronavirus.nebraska.gov/EmergencyRentalAssistanceProgram

Who qualifies?

  • You are a Nebraska resident
  • You are a renter with a current residential lease or rental agreement
  • Your household currently meets the income guidelines. – 80% Income Eligibility Limit
  • You are a U.S. citizen or legal resident alien
  • Your landlord is not an immediate family member

In addition, you are eligible if you answer YES to ONE of the following:

  • You are unable to pay all or part of your monthly rent due to a COVID-19 financial hardship (e.g., qualify for unemployment, have experienced a reduction in household income, or incurred significant costs)
  • You can show a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability (e.g. past due notice, proof of non-payment of rent, or eviction notice)

Who should you complete this with?

Ideally it’s best to sit down with your landlord and you both complete your own applications side by side. If that’s not possible, you both can complete the application separately, but you both will need to submit one in most cases.

If you’re in need of legal assistance or just assistance in completing the application, the following legal aid groups can help.

Nebraska Appleseed: https://neappleseed.org

Legal Aid of Nebraska: https://www.legalaidofnebraska.org

What’s the deadline?

The program’s original August deadline no longer applies, tenant advocates say. They say rental assistance applications will continue to be processed for months, and maybe into 2022.

If you find that you do not meet the eligibility requirements above, there may be other programs that can help you. Visit the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority’s Covid-19 resources site: https://www.nifa.org/emergency-response-info  

By Lauryn Higgins

Lauryn Higgins is a journalist whose work has focused primarily on public health, climate change and agriculture. Her work tracking the coronavirus for the New York Times was part of a team that won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.