The importance of one’s own home has never been greater. Our houses have always been a safe haven for us, but in the midst of the COVID pandemic, they have also functioned as our virtual classroom, workplace, marketplace, and gathering place.
Although moratoriums have protected tenants from eviction and temporary assistance has helped some tenants afford rent payments, bills continue to pile each month, leaving families unsure how they will pay arrears and landlords without income. Some tenants received assistance, while others did not.
Those Who We Serve
Due to the COVID pandemic, many Kansans, notably those in Wichita, have had difficulty paying or collecting rent, utilities, or internet service. These Kansans receive aid from KERA.
The Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program is funded by the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The majority of these money will be disbursed through the KERA program, which Governor Kelly has authorized the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC) to administer.
A Comprehensive Program Outline
The Kansas Emergency Rental Aid (KERA) program assists homes that have fallen on hard times financially due to the COVID pandemic by assisting with rent payments, energy bills, and internet access. Tenants and landlords will both submit their applications online. If the applicant’s request is approved, the landlord or service provider will receive funding directly from KERA and credit the applicant’s account accordingly. Successful applicants may be eligible for financial assistance for up to 18 months.
The Eligibility Criteria
To be considered, applicants must meet all of the following requirements:
- Tenant rents their home.
- In either 2020 or 2021, the tenant’s household income did not exceed 80% of the median income in their area.
- During the COVID pandemic, at least one member of the leased household had poor financial difficulties. Employment loss, a decrease in household income, or significant COVID-related expenses (such as medical bills, the cost of personal protective equipment, the cost of child care, equipment or internet costs to enable online work or schooling, and so on) can all contribute to a person’s level of hardship.
- At least one member of the renter household is unsure where they will live or is at risk of being homeless if they do not receive housing assistance.
- The applicant is able to provide valid identification.
The applicants must not have received assistance from any other organizations for the identical costs and time period for which they are seeking KERA assistance.
The Application Procedure
- Both the landlord and the tenant must complete their respective online certifications at the same time.
- Both the landlord and the tenant are notified when an application is handled.
- If the application is approved, KHRC will send the funds directly to the landlord and/or service provider (s).
- The landlord and/or the service provider apply the aid to the tenant’s account (s).
What is the scope of aid?
- Up to 18 months of unpaid household rent, current and previous.
- Even if the household does not have rental arrears, you can borrow up to three months of estimated household rent at a time.
- Residential utility or home energy bills that are past due for tenants (electric, gas, water, sewer, and trash services), even though the family does not have rental arrears.
- Past due or expected internet charges for tenants, paid in one lump sum of $900 if the tenant household is also eligible for assistance with past-due rental or utility payments.
- Additional payments associated with past-due rent or utility bills, such as reasonable late fines, rental security deposits, application or screening costs, pet fees, utility fees, parking fees, garage fees, and/or legal fees, may be repaid.
Please keep in mind that all expenses must have been billed or charged by April 1, 2020, or later.