South Omaha underserved by Emergency Assistance Rental Program

While the rental assistance program was helpful for thousands of people, a Creighton professor's findings show that some were left out.
Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 7:01 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - According to a recently released report by Professor Pierce Greenberg at Creighton University, more than 7,400 people were saved from eviction in Omaha by the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

That’s nearly $43 million in help. But a portion of Omaha went underserved based on its need.

“What the report finds is that South Omaha received less rental assistance than we would expect given its demographics,” said Greenberg.

Maps created by Professor Greenberg show the places most likely in need of rental assistance based on data from the Urban Institute Priority Index. The darker the color, the more need. The darkest are in Downtown, North, and South Omaha.

Predicted need based on the Urban Institute Priority Index.
Predicted need based on the Urban Institute Priority Index.(PHOTO: Pierce Greenberg)

A different map shows that the funding distribution doesn’t necessarily follow the need. The darker the color, the more rental assistance funds. South Omaha’s actual distribution of assistance funds doesn’t match its predicated need.

Actual distribution of emergency rental assistance funds in Omaha.
Actual distribution of emergency rental assistance funds in Omaha.(PHOTO: Pierce Greenberg)

Ben Salazar is a community advocate in South Omaha, someone who people turn to for help.

“Too many people in South Omaha in the Latino in the immigrant community are not getting access to rental assistance because they don’t qualify because of status, legal status,” said Salazar.

To get funds in Omaha, you must be a citizen or legal resident.

Greenberg’s analysis shows, “about 14% of the people in poverty are not eligible for the rental assistance program due to the citizen requirements.”

Although Omaha requires you to be a citizen or legal resident, according to Lincoln officials, citizenship is not a factor they consider in eligibility for emergency rental assistance.

Additionally, the actual application for Omaha is in English. Community leaders say this language barrier may be contributing to the disparity in the distribution of funds seen in South Omaha.

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