Omaha renters, landlords frustrated with slow rollout of COVID relief funds

Federal halt on evictions set to expire at the end of March
Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 10:14 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Millions of dollars in COVID rent assistance is still sitting waiting to help out those in need in Omaha. The city announced in January it has $22 million in federal funds in hand, the majority of it is to help people with rent, but it has yet to make it into the hands of those in need.

The slow rollout has both renters and landlords frustrated. “I was trying to figure out how I have the notice when I just talked to you guys and you know I’m trying to get help,” said Sara Peterson, in regards to recently getting an eviction notice.

She said her landlord is tired of her being late with her rent. Peterson’s been having a tough time landing a job and childcare amid the pandemic, and most months it’s been a scramble to get rent assistance.

“I’ve been late since September, but not as late as I was this month because it’s been so hard trying ot find help from someone,” said Peterson, who’s counting on the federal halt on evictions being extended past March.

And it’s not just renters with concerns, landlord’s are facing tough times too. “It is a really scary time, I know a few people who are just like that’s it I’m out. This doesn’t work anymore,” said Kevin Schaben, a local landlord, noting they too are struggling to keep up with their bills, as tenants struggle to get help with rent.

“I’ve had an incident where somebody was getting behind and I was being patient, and all of sudden they were getting further and further behind and those resources weren’t available and ultimately they just kind of left,” said Schaben. “They’re left being displaced and there’s not an option of getting those funds at this point, so it would’ve been nice to have gotten them sooner.”

Peterson agrees, a little help would’ve gone a long way. Now she’s worried it’s too late. “Even though I’m trying they’re just fed up, they don’t want to deal with it I guess - they just want someone with a job who isn’t going to be late.”

The Mayor’s Office told 6 News they plan to announce more details about this latest round of rental assistance on Monday. As for why it’s taken this amount of time, they said it’s been a matter of making sure all the federal guidelines have been met.

Douglas County recently made some funds available for rent and mortgage assistance through the nonprofit MACCH. You can access applications here.

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