Omaha qualifies for federal rent assistance as state bill helps out renters

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 11:48 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The City of Omaha is now able to give emergency rent and utility assistance from federal funds.

According to a news release from Mayor Jean Stothert on Thursday, city officials turned in documents to the U.S. Treasury Department to get the funding through the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act.

“Many of our citizens have experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic. Accepting the available federal dollars to help out or citizens with fundamental expenses is another way we can provide assistance and support those who need it,” she said. “The actions we have taken over the last 10 months position Omaha for a strong, post-pandemic economic recovery.”

The new Consolidated Appropriations Act qualifies local governments that have a population greater than 200,000 for funding. In contrast, the CARES Act gave direct funding only to cities with a population of at least 500,000, which is why Omaha’s funds were distributed by Douglas County.

The City of Omaha is developing a program to apply and give out federal funds with the help of community partners. Similar to how funds were received from the Housing and Urban Development in 2020.

Meanwhile in Lincoln, State Sen. Adam Morfeld introduced LB-394, the Public Health Emergency Housing Act, on Thursday. The bill gives a waiting period on evictions and mortgage foreclosures in public health emergencies, such as the pandemic.

“This is a critical tool desperately needed to protect tenants and landlords during a pandemic,” Morfeld said in the news release from his office about the bill.

The U.S. Treasury Department will determine how much funds will be given out based on the U.S. Census data. There are estimates that show Omaha could receive up to $40-$50 million.

A date hasn’t been announced yet as to when the funds will be released.

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