Tenants press for help as local government mulls over COVID-19 funding

Published: May. 27, 2020 at 5:52 PM CDT
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Renters hit by the pandemic say they need help now. Come June 1 they will no longer be protected by Nebraska’s moratorium on evictions hearings, leaving many wondering when some assistance will arrive.

“We need it now,” said Aly Kahlo-Lagos, who rents a house in Omaha for her family. “We can’t wait for that money, we need that money now.”

Like so many renters, Kahlo-Lagos lost her job amid the pandemic.

“There are plenty of people who are going to be evicted by June 7 if we don’t get these problems resolved, right away,” said Kahlo-Lagos.

6 News has learned Douglas County commissioners are considering using funds from the Cares Act to provide rental assistance.

“I believe we can,” said Mike Boyle, Douglas County Commissioner, District 1. “I’m one of seven county commissioners and of course there’s a tremendous demand for the funds we have.”

Last week 17 nonprofits signed onto a letter asking the county fund agencies equipped to distribute rental assistance.

“It’s really very difficult to get our hands around the problem,” said Boyle. “There are so many agencies that are helping, which is wonderful, so it’s difficult to say this is the agency that we’ll try to fund to some degree.”

6 News has learned the City of Omaha is also looking to help out; funds could be available by mid-July, but Kahlo-Lagos believes it’s taking too long.

“This is something they’ve had two months to do, two months to work on you know, and we could have really used that money a long time ago,” said Kahlo-Lagos.

When exactly the county might distribute money, it is up in the air.

“I’m one of seven (commissioners),” said Boyle. “I talked this morning with the finance director and we need to pin down some dates and so forth.“

It’s not what renters like Kahlo-Lagos want to hear.

“It’s not going to be here in time,” said Kahlo-Lagos. “You know, once June 1 rolls around I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of landlords ready to slam those 7 day notices to quit papers on people’s doorways.”

Boyle is encouraging renters to reach out to The United Way if they need assistance; he says they will do their best to put people in contact with agencies that may be able to help.