Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA)

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The Need

Home has never been more important. Our homes have always provided shelter, but in the midst of the COVID pandemic, home has also become our virtual classroom, workplace, marketplace, and gathering space.

While moratoriums have provided tenants with protection from eviction and temporary assistance has helped some tenants cover rent payments, the bills continue to accrue each month, leaving families unsure how they will pay arrears, and leaving landlords without income. 

Audience Served

KERA serves Kansans, including those residing in the city of Wichita, who have had difficulty paying or collecting rent, utility, or internet payments due to the COVID pandemic. 

Funding Source

The Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program is funded through the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. Governor Kelly designated Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC) to serve as the administrator of the majority of these funds through the KERA program.

Program Description

The Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program provides rent, utility, and internet assistance to households experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID pandemic. Landlords and tenants apply via a joint online process. If the application is approved, the landlord or service provider receives funds directly from KERA and applies KERA funds to the applicant’s account. Approved applicants are eligible for up to 12 months of assistance.

KERA METRICS TO DATE

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Total Applications Submitted

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Applications in Process

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Households Served

$ 0

Funding Provided

KERA Metrics by County

View KERA statistics for each of the 105 Kansas counties. 

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Tenant rents their home, or is currently homeless.
  • Tenant’s 2020 household income did not exceed 80 percent of their area’s median income.
  • At least one member of the tenant household is experiencing documented financial hardship as a result of the COVID pandemic. Hardship may include loss of employment, reduction in household income, or significant COVID-related expenses (medical bills, personal protective equipment, child care costs, equipment or internet costs to enable online work/schooling, etc.).
  • At least one member of the tenant household is uncertain where they will stay or may become homeless without housing assistance.
  • Applicant can provide valid proof of identification.

Applicants must not have received assistance from other sources for the same costs and time period for which they are requesting KERA assistance. 

Application Process

  1. Landlord and tenant jointly complete separate online certification.
  2. Landlord and tenant are notified when application is processed.
  3. If approved, landlord and/or service provider(s) receive funds directly from KHRC.
  4. Landlord and/or service providers(s) applies assistance to tenant account.

What does assistance cover?

  • Up to 12 months of current and past due household rent.
  • Up to three months of prospective household rent at a time, even if the household does not have rental arrears.
  • Past due residential utility or home energy expenses for tenants (electric, as, water, sewer, and trash services), even if the household does not have rental arrears.
  • Past due or prospective internet expenses for tenants, paid in one lump sum of $600, provided the tenant household is also eligible for assistance with for past-due rental or utility bills.
  • Additional fees associated with past-due rent or utility bills, including: reasonable late fees, rental security deposits, application or screening fees, pet fees, utility fees, parking fees, garage fees, and/or legal fees.

Note: All expenses must have been billed or charged April 1, 2020 or later 

Partner Search

Need help completing or submitting your KERA application? Our community partners are standing by to assist you. Use our search tool to find the partner serving your county, and contact their team for support.

KERA News
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The pandemic has affected us individually in different ways, yet it has also reminded us that we are all connected. The ripple effects of one business closing or one family being evicted are felt throughout a community. Those community ripples are felt across the entire state. But when the opposite happens—when a worker can pay their rent and keep their job, or when a housing provider can afford to stay in business because they are able to recover rental arrears—the positive effects ripple throughout a community as well.

To date, the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance Program has provided $49,612,527 million to 8,846 Kansas households, positively impacting the lives of 21,985 tenants and 3,729 landlords across the state. Beyond the individual impact of keeping nearly 8,850 Kansas families safely housed, that translates to nearly $50 million injected into our local economies to stimulate economic recovery. Landlords—many of them small business owners—can afford to keep running their businesses and pay their property taxes, which fund essential public services including schools. Tenants can get back to work without massive rental debts and evictions on their records, while keeping their families safely housed. For those experiencing homelessness due to the pandemic, KERA funding provides hotel and motel vouchers, housing counseling, and rapid rehousing through KHRC’s new Bridge to Housing Stability initiative.

Each of those nearly 8,850 Kansas families has a story. Nick Baumgartner is just one Kansan who has paid forward the benefits of the rental assistance he’s received from KERA.

Baumgartner’s small business serves the needs of local restaurants in the Topeka area, many of which struggled financially during the pandemic. “I never needed to ask for any kind of financial assistance before,” he said. “But because restaurants were so negatively impacted by the pandemic, my business suffered too.” When the money from his SBA loan ran out in 2020, Baumgartner’s family had to choose between paying rent or utilities, and that’s when his landlord told him to apply for the KERA program.

“I never needed to ask for any kind of financial assistance before,” he said. “But because restaurants were so negatively impacted by the pandemic, my business suffered too.”

“It took me less than 10 minutes to fill out the KERA application, and when I had questions, the customer service team was incredibly helpful and efficient during a stressful time,” Baumgartner said. “After my landlord was paid for past-due rent, I was able to apply for three months of future rental assistance.”

Baumgartner says the KERA program allowed him to keep his small business running, and “allowed us to continue to be there for our clients and our customers without worrying about having to send them to collections.” KERA not only assisted his family, but kept his clients in business, helping local restaurants bounce back again.

Baumgartner has told several people to apply for the KERA program. “They’ve already been funded and are doing well again,” he said.

The ripple effects of Baumgartner’s rental assistance were felt throughout his local community. At KHRC, we’re proud to continue to facilitate these growing ripples across Kansas.

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Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC) is a self-supporting, nonprofit, public corporation committed to helping Kansans access the safe, affordable housing they need and the dignity they deserve. KHRC serves as the state’s housing finance agency (HFA), administering essential housing and community programs to serve Kansans.

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Mulvane landlord, Zach Storm.

This week, the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program has assisted a record-breaking 971 households, adding to the total 8,218 Kansas households now served by the program. Payments totaling more than $45.2 million have been sent to 190 different utility companies, and have made whole approximately 3,400 property managers and landlords of eligible applicants, keeping them safely and affordably housed. 

Recognizing the key role that landlords and property managers play in providing affordable housing to low- and moderate-income renters, Congress designed its emergency rental assistance initiative to support landlords as well as tenants. Zach Storm, a landlord from Mulvane, Kansas, has experienced this benefit firsthand. Storm had several tenants who kept getting further behind on rent. When he heard about KERA on the news, he reached out and encouraged them to apply. “Many of them have children, and this pandemic is something nobody planned on. I’m doing what’s best for both them and me by having them apply,” said Storm.

Storm compassionately communicated to his tenants who were behind on rent that he wasn’t going to evict them, as long as they applied for the KERA program. Like many Kansas landlords, Storm is a small business owner whose livelihood depends on rental income. “I got to the point where rent was my sole income, so it was critical for both me and the tenants to apply for KERA funds,” said Storm. “If a hot water heater or a furnace goes out, I still had to pay for that.”

Some of Storm’s tenants have already been funded, and some have since recertified for three months of future rental assistance. Storm encourages other landlords to talk to their tenants about the KERA program so they can apply. “As long as your tenants are eligible for KERA funds, you’re going to get paid. I’ve already gotten paid for two of my tenants’ rent, and I’m awaiting payment on a third,” he said.

 “As long as your tenants are eligible for KERA funds, you’re going to get paid. I’ve already gotten paid for two of my tenants’ rent, and I’m awaiting payment on a third,” he said.

Tenants and landlords can expect eligible KERA applications to be processed in a matter of weeks, thanks to recent changes to Emergency Rental Assistance guidelines from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. KERA applicants can now self-attest to eligibility guidelines including household income, COVID hardship, and housing instability, if documentation is not immediately available. These changes have significantly eased the documentation burden on applicants and have allowed for faster processing and payment.

The KERA team encourages Kansas landlords to continue talking with their tenants who are behind on rent about the KERA program, and to distribute KERA flyers to their tenants and residents. KERA Flyers can be found on the KERA webpage, or downloaded here to be printed or digitally distributed to tenants.

Learn more about the KERA program and apply: https://kshousingcorp.org/emergency-rental-assistance/

Hear more about Zach Storm’s experience via KAKE news: https://www.kake.com/story/44423820/khrc-prepared-expecting-increase-of-rent-assistance-as-eviction-moratorium-may-be-ending

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Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC) is a self-supporting, nonprofit, public corporation committed to helping Kansans access the safe, affordable housing they need and the dignity they deserve. KHRC serves as the state’s housing finance agency (HFA), administering essential housing and community programs to serve Kansans.

 

 

 

 

KERA Applicants Gary and Sheryl Evert

As of today, the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program has assisted nearly 7,800 Kansas households that have struggled financially due to the COVID pandemic by granting more than $41.5 million in rental, utilities, and internet assistance to eligible Kansas households. Every applicant who has received assistance through the KERA program has a unique story to share. One of those applicants is Gary Evert of Olathe.

KERA Applicants Gary and Sheryl Evert
KERA recipients Gary and Sheryl Evert relax at home.

“My wife Sheryl and I are in our 70s, and before we received our KERA funding, life was really stressful. We didn’t know when we would be able to pay our landlord, but he remained patient, ” said Evert.

“The best part about this program,” Evert said, “was the KERA program associate we spoke with. She was so sweet and kind. She was able to point out a few little details I needed to address on the application, and she was always there to answer every single question I had. ‘Take a breath,’ she said, ‘because it’s going to take several breaths before your application is processed.’ We’re all nervous, but when someone can calm you down and give you a sense of hope, it’s very comforting.”

Though we encourage applicants to call KERA customer service at 785-217-2001, Option 1, with questions or concerns, we also encourage you to periodically take a breath as you check your application dashboard to view the status of your application. Eligible households can expect KERA applications to move through some of the following status changes over a period of weeks. Here are some explanations of the various status changes that can help you breathe a little easier:

  1. Incomplete/Requires Applicant Response: Your application has either not been submitted, or we have found some missing items that need to be added. Those items will be listed under the “messages” tab in your application dashboard
  2.  Pending Initial Review: The KERA Processing team is reviewing the application to make sure all documents we need are uploaded and all necessary fields are accurately filled out to qualify for approval.
  3. Pending Property Manager Acceptance: Your application has passed initial review, and we are waiting to receive documents from the property manager or servicer.
  4. Utility Review: Your request for rental assistance has been verified, and we are verifying requested utility amounts with the utility and/or internet providers.
  5. Final Review: The application has been verified for rental and/or utilities assistance and is being checked one last time before being submitted for funding.
  6. Submitted for Funding: The application has passed final review and has been put into the queue for KERA to make the final decision on whether the applicant will receive funding. Once applications reach this status, landlords, property managers, and service providers of eligible households can expect to receive payments within a week and a half
  7. Funding Approved: KERA has approved the application and is in the process of sending out funds.
  8. Payment Sent: KERA has approved the application and has sent the funding to the landlords, property managers, and service providers. At this stage, applicants can reapply for three prospective months of rental assistance at a time. Instructions for reapplying can be found here: https://conta.cc/3isig4F

If applicants still have questions after checking their status, or need immediate assistance with utility disconnections, restoring utility services, or addressing eviction notices while awaiting funds, they are encouraged to call KERA customer service at: 785-217-2001, Option 1, or to send an email to kera@kshousingcorp.org.

Questions?

This project is being  supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number ERA0032 awarded to Kansas Housing Resources Corporation by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

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Fraud Reporting Form


To submit a report of possible fraud, abuse, or waste in the KERA program, please complete the online form below. You may also submit a report by phone at 785-217-2001 or by mail to 611 S. Kansas Ave., Suite 300, Topeka, KS 66603.

Kansas Housing Resources Corporation is subject to the Kansas Open Records Act, which requires that all public records be made available to the public upon request, unless the information requested is subject to a specific statutory exemption.

Fraud Reporting Form

  • Please enter your information:

    When providing information please include as many details as possible. This will allow us to fully evaluate your report. Anonymous information will be considered, however providing your name and phone number will allow us to reach out for additional information, as necessary.
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Income Guidelines

Household Size Maximum Income for Weatherization (200% of FPL)
1  $   25,760
2  $  34,840
3  $  43,920
4  $   53,000
5  $  62,080
6  $  71,160
7  $  80,240
8  $  89,320
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