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Douglas County opens applications for rental assistance

Landlords must also apply to unlock CARES Act funds
Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 1:01 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Douglas County began accepting applications for $10 million worth of federal rental assistance at 8 a.m. Monday, and renters hit hard by the pandemic didn’t waste any time requesting the CARES Act funds.

“I thought it would best to be on there when the link when live because who knows if the internet would slow down,” said Alyssa Pesek, a hairstylist and mother of two boys, sidelined from work amid the pandemic.

Pesek said some rental assistance would go a long way right now.

“So I can just go find a job, start working and not have to be worried about the back rent that i have to pay and feel like I’m never going to get caught up,” Pesek said.

It’s a first-come, first-serve system that starts with the tenant filling out an application.

“It slowed down a little bit just as 8 o’clock hit,” Pesek said. “But then it prompted me to submit the forms, and I got an email right away.”

An email stating she’s done her part in applying and now it’s up to her landlord. The county is making direct payments to landlords, meaning they are required to submit tax information to the county; not something all landlord is likely to do, according to Together Inc.

“Sometimes there’s a misunderstanding by the landlord as to why we need that form. And so they’re semi-reluctant to release that to us because it is their tax information,” said Scott McDowell, a crisis engagement specialist with Together Inc. The organization is helping field calls from people, walking them through the application process.

The county reported receiving 225 applications in the first two hours Monday morning; and 26 landlords had already responded. The county told 6 News they began processing those 26 applications right away.

Alyssa Pesek is hoping her landlord responds quickly, so she can get her piece of the federal funds. In the meantime, there is much uncertainty.

“Is that money going to through? Is it not? How am I going to make it if it doesn’t? What are the next steps?” Pesek said. “It’s a slippery slope.”

Renters who qualify for assistance will receive four months’ worth of rental assistance, up to $4,000.

County officials said they expect some payments to be ready for approval by the Board of Commissioners meeting Aug. 4.

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