Assistance is available for Kansans who are struggling to cover their rent and utility payments due to COVID may qualify for up to 12 months of emergency assistance thanks to new federal relief program.

Kansas has received $200 million in Statewide Rental Assistance with the funds to be administered by the City of Wichita and the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation. The initiative, is funded through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021.

Tenants may qualify for assistance if they earn no more than 80% of their area’s median income, are experiencing documented financial hardship as a result of the COVID pandemic and may be at risk of housing instability or homelessness without assistance.

Wichita residents may apply through the Wichita Emergency Rental Assistance Program (WERAP) administered by the city’s Housing and Community Services division. The city’s online application opened on Mon., Feb. 22.

Kansans living outside the Wichita city limits may apply through the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program administered by KHRC. The online KERA application will open on Mon., March 15.

“In unprecedented times of hardship, it’s imperative that we step up to provide security to those in need,” said Sally Stang, Director of Housing and Community Services for the City of Wichita. “Everyone needs a little help now and then, and we want to ensure that families and individuals who need help to stay in their homes receive it.”

To be eligible for the WERAP program:

The household must have an income below 80% AMI. Households with an income of less than 50% AMI or households who were employed in 2020 but have been unemployed for the 90 days prior to application will be served first.

The family must have past due rent and/or utilities and must have received an eviction notice or demand for payment.

The family must have a COVID-19 related economic impact such as loss of job, reduced hours, reduced tips, or increased childcare or medical expenses.

Dependent on funding availability, the program can provide funding for:

Past due rent & utilities

Future rent & utilities in three month increments with recertification of eligibility every 90 days

A total of 12 months of assistance (past due & future payments combined)

While waiting for the program to come online households should gather the following required documentation:

Copy of the lease

Copy of the eviction notice or demands for payment

Documentation of income (check stubs, unemployment statement, child support printout, W2s and 1099s from 2020 etc)

Contact information for the landlord

Documentation of the COVID-19 related economic impact (unemployment statement, termination letter, letter from employer regarding reduced hours, sufficient check stubs to document reduced hours, remote school documentation coupled with childcare statement, medical bills for COVID-19 related illness etc).

The KERA and WERAP programs follow the 2020 Kansas Eviction Prevention Program (KEPP), a $20 million assistance initiative administered by KHRC with federal CARES Act funding. In the roughly 60 days that the program was in statewide operation, KHRC received 10,138 applications for more than $25 million requested in assistance, representing 27,200 Kansans financially impacted by COVID.

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