In March of 2021, The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was passed by congress, and the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program also opened to serve tenant households that had fallen behind on rent and utilities due to a financial hardship. In a year’s time, the KERA program has disbursed more than $132 million to keep 18,449 families safely and affordably housed through the pandemic. Through continued ARPA funding, KERA remains available to eligible households.
Since the pandemic began, frontline and essential workers have provided invaluable services to keep Kansans healthy. And when those frontline workers become sick or injured, we all count on them to get back on their feet. KERA support allowed one medical worker in Topeka to stay at home while recovering from an injury so she could do just that.
She says, “I’ve been a frontline medical worker for almost nine years; however, I suffered a work injury that has left me with irreversible damage to my entire spine. The injury has forced me to go on short-term disability leave from my job. Even with the short-term leave benefits, health workers barely receive sufficient funds to support themselves, let alone enough to support a family. It’s been especially challenging to cope financially while also enduring COVID-19 twice.”
New KERA guidelines allow eligible households that have suffered a financial hardship at any time during the pandemic to receive up to 18 months of rental and utility assistance, an increase from the previous 15-month maximum. Eligible households can also now request a $900 lump sum in internet assistance.
Because of an increase in medical bills, this Topeka worker will still be able to receive additional KERA funding now that household financial hardships aren’t required to be COVID-19-related. “Back and neck surgery will be inevitable for me in the future,” she says. “Meanwhile, most of my income goes to a stack of medical bills, pain management, medical insurance, and past-due bills. This is why I am beyond grateful for the rental and utility assistance provided by KERA. I’m able to remain in my home to rest and recover so I can eventually get back to work.”
For many Kansans, recovering from the monetary strain of mounting bills, along with past-due rent and utilities, can be nearly impossible. That’s why the potential 18 months of KERA assistance is so vital to alleviating households’ financial burdens while unlocking home for our essential workers and their families. KHRC is proud to assist in our collective economic recovery as we continue to heal from the lingering pains of the pandemic.
For more information about KERA and to apply, visit: kshousingcorp.org/emergency-rental-assistance
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, administering essential housing and community programs to serve Kansans.