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Lincoln receives $13M funds for housing assistance

Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 6:20 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and community partners today urged those who need help with housing and utility costs due to the pandemic to apply for assistance using the new online form at //lincoln.ne.gov/rent. Lincoln recently received an addition $13.45 million in federal funds to help residents, including funding to help individuals and families with past housing and utility debt.

“We have secured millions of dollars in federal funding to keep roofs over heads by helping those in need of housing and utilities assistance,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird. “We urge community members to help us spread the word that help is here for anyone struggling to pay off their housing and utility debt as a result of the pandemic.”

In the past, those needing assistance were asked to call individual agencies for help. The updated and streamlined process includes an online application form for tenants and landlords and a “one-call” dedicated number at 402-413-2085 for assistance. More information and the application forms are available at both //lincoln.ne.gov/rent and the Resident Resource page at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov.

The funding is part of federal government aid to help communities weather the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The additional funding enables an expanded community-wide partnership designed to ensure residents remain healthy and housed. The City may receive more funding for housing and utilities from the new American Rescue Plan in the next 60 days.

Urban Development Director Dan Marvin said new federal funds are “a light at the end of the tunnel for many individuals and families saddled with housing and utility debt.” He said the expanded network of partners will help ensure that the distribution of the funds is “effective, efficient and equitable.”

The City has been providing housing and utility assistance throughout the pandemic. The $4 million in federal CARES funding the City received last July included $975,000 for housing and utilities assistance. In September, Lincoln received an additional $728,000 in federal CARES Act funding for its program to help to people struggling to pay for rent, mortgages and utilities, and the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation provided additional $100,000 match for these federal dollars. Marvin said those funds have been used to help more than 1,000 families eliminate housing and utility debt to date. He said that with the new funds and expanded system, the City will do even more to help tenants and landlords across the community.

Lincoln resident Amanda Hammer is one of the residents whose housing and utility debt was paid through this funding. “I am so grateful for this program and the partners that make it possible,” said Hammer, “Without this lifeline, my situation would be dire. I was able to stay housed through the most trying times.”

“We work hard to communicate with tenants about any issues they are having and to help find solutions,” said Lynn Fisher, owner and manager of Great Place Properties. “The housing and utility assistance from the City has definitely helped tenants pay their rent and stay housed during this pandemic. That in turn helps my business pay our bills and continue to keep the apartments in good shape.”

Lancaster County also received additional funding for housing and utility assistance. “Rent and utility assistance is needed across our county, and this includes the rural areas of our community as well,” said County Commissioner Sean Flowerday. “We have $1.2 million in treasury funds devoted to those living in rural communities outside of the Lincoln city limits. If you are struggling because of the pandemic, we have resources to help you. We have already received a dozen applications for approximately $80,000 submitted from Waverly, Hickman, Bennet, Martell and Firth.”

The expanded network of partners includes Family Services; CenterPointe; Community Action Partnership; Catholic Social Services; the HUB; Lincoln Community Foundation; Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach; CEDARS; the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation; and the UNL Center on Children, Families, and the Law.

Lancaster County has received approximately $1.4 million in federal relief to help Lancaster County residents who are facing eviction or utility disconnection. The Emergency Rental Assistance assists households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Landlords and tenants are eligible to apply.

Residents who are eligible to apply must meet the following criteria:

  • You, or an adult member of your household, has had a loss of income due to COVID-19.
  • You have an unpaid rent balance that began on or after March 1, 2020.
  • Must not duplicate other federal, state, or local assistance.
  • Your household income restrictions (before March 1, 2020) apply.
  • These funds are available only to those who live outside the Lincoln city limits. The City of Lincoln will have their own application process.

The following assistance is available:

  • Rent Assistance: Up to 12 months of rent assistance dating back to March 13, 2020.
  • Utility Assistance: Electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil.

Please note that telecommunication services (telephone, cable, Internet) delivered to the rental dwelling are not considered to be utilities.

Lancaster County Commissioner Sean Flowerday stated, “I know rent and utility assistance is needed across the county. This includes rural Lancaster County. We have approximately $1.2 million in treasury funds devoted to our towns and villages outside of the city limits. If you are struggling because of the pandemic, we have resources to help you. We have a county employee, as well as, Community Action Partnership who are devoted to helping you get the assistance you need. Reach out to us on the number provided today or apply through the website. Covid has impacted so many in our county, please don’t hesitate to ask for help.”

Additional information and the application can be found here: The updated and streamlined process includes an online application form for tenants and landlords and a “one-call” dedicated number at 402-413-2085 for assistance. More information and the application forms are available at both //lincoln.ne.gov/rent and the Resident Resource page at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov or https://www.lancaster.ne.gov/1195/Rental-Assistance

Established in 1859, Lancaster County is Nebraska’s second most populated county. Home to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Lancaster County is a growing and dynamic community. In collaboration with the City of Lincoln, Lancaster County provides a variety of services for residents and has been nationally recognized for its cooperation and progressive attitude in service to residents. The mission of the Lancaster County Board is to provide sustainable governmental services for a healthy, safe, and diverse community.

For more information about Lancaster County please visit the website at www.lancaster.ne.gov or call 402-441-7447.

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