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Kansas awards more than $45 million to tenants, landlords to cover rent

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Kimberly James | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – The Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance program is helping Kansas residents – tenants and landlords – stay afloat during the pandemic recovery.

"We have been honored to administer the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) Program, which has already kept more than 8,200 tenant households in their homes during the pandemic and awarded more than $45 million to make Kansas landlords and utility companies whole," Emily Sharp, director of communications at Kansas Housing Resources Corporation, told The Center Square. "Through KERA, we’re currently distributing roughly $3 million in rental, utility, and internet assistance to approximately 500 Kansas households per week."

Recently, Kansas Housing Resources Corporation provided $4.2 million in assistance to 971 Kansas households, the organization's largest weekly disbursement yet.

Kansas legislators have expressed concern for citizens since the federal moratorium on evictions expired.

“It’s heart-wrenching when we get the emails … from folks who can’t get unemployment," state Sen. Rick Billinger, R-Dist. 40, said according to Kansas Reflector. "They’re losing their house. They’re losing their car. They’re sleeping in sheds. They’re farming their kids out. It’s terrible. We’ve got all this money and all these programs.”

Overall, Kansas has received $300 million in congressional apportionments for rental assistance through KERA. Funds are authorized to be used through 2025.

As many as 28,000 Kansas households have been unable to make rent payments or are on the verge of being evicted.

"Unfortunately, while we are working as hard as we can to meet the evictions that are out there, we can only use these dollars for eligible evictions," Ryan Vincent, executive director of KHRC, told the Kansas Reflector. "If they don’t have a COVID hardship, if they don’t meet the income requirements, if they aren’t able to provide us proof of residency, under the federal rules we can’t fund their application.”

The KERA program helps people with rent payments as well as expenses such as electricity, gas, water, sewer and trash services.

"Our program is slated to operate through 2024, and we still have plenty of resources available to assist Kansans," Sharp said.