The Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program has now provided more than $66.7 million to help 11,441 Kanas households avoid eviction and keep their utilities on as we approach the holiday season. The massive disbursement has been aided in part by the US Treasury’s recently loosened guidelines. Applicants can now self-attest to their 2020 household income, COVID hardship, and housing instability if documentation isn’t readily available. This change has increased efficiency in application processing, allowing larger bulk payments to be made to households quicker.
KERA serves households with the highest needs first, in accordance with federal prioritization guidelines. In cases where tenants face imminent eviction from their homes, the KERA team has been able to prioritize emergency funding, halting more than 350 active evictions.
Nyrica Hall of Topeka is one applicant spared from homelessness through KERA. After a string of layoffs during the pandemic, Hall had racked up a massive credit card debt, leaving her without means to continue paying rent. Hall’s landlord explained they needed to jointly apply for KERA. While awaiting funding, Hall received a 3-Day Notice to Quit, and panicked without additional funds or family in the area to help her out.
Hall called KERA customer service line to report her 3-day notice, and explained that her internet bill had become past-due in the meantime. She got a call back later that day from the customer service manager. “I literally cried when he called me to say my funding had been approved and told me a $600 credit would be applied to my internet provider,” Hall said. Because of her prioritization score, Hall’s funding was scheduled for an emergency payment that day, and she was able to stay in her apartment.
“KERA definitely helped me move forward in my life in a positive way,” said Hall. With stable housing and a reliable internet connection, Hall was able to find a new job. When new expenses arose, such as a broken-down car, she was able to afford to get it fixed and keep driving to work.
Hall continues to spread the word to others in need of assistance. She wants those in need to know that “The KERA program is a resource designed to keep households from becoming homeless. It’s helping people find a way out of the pandemic and one of the worst financial hardships we’ve experienced in years.”
Federal guidelines require KERA applications to be processed in order of need, through a prioritization scoring system. This means applications with the highest need are processed first, based on the following factors:
- Level of income (lower the income tier, higher the priority)
- Income to amount requested ratio
- Days unemployed
- Number of household members unemployed
- Number of months delinquent
- Eviction status
- Disconnection of utilities status
- Date application was submitted
If applicants receive a court summons or eviction notice while awaiting funding, we encourage them to upload this documentation and send an email to: email@example.com.