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Nebraska launches virus aid program for tenants, landlords

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 1:09 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2021 at 2:11 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska launched a federally funded aid program Monday for renters and landlords who have lost income due to the pandemic, but residents of the state’s two largest counties won’t be eligible.

The program managed by the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority offers a maximum of 15 months of rental or mortgage assistance per applicant, up to $20,000.

State officials said it’s only available to tenants who make 80% or less of their county’s median income, and who can show they’re unable to pay rent because of a financial hardship caused by the pandemic or they’re at risk of becoming homeless.

“It’s our commitment to quickly communicate the availability and guidelines of this program those who are most in need,” Shannon Harner, director of the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, said at a news conference with Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Douglas and Lancaster counties will have their own programs.

Money for the program comes from a $25 billion federal assistance program that Congress approved in December. Ricketts said Nebraska received $200 million, with $158 million going to the state and the rest going to Douglas and Lancaster counties and the city governments of Omaha and Lincoln. Ricketts said the state will step in to cover the costs for those residents if their local governments exhaust their share of the money.

Harner said the state’s program will cover the cost of utilities for renters, dating as far back as April 1, 2020. Landlords who have already evicted their tenants for not paying rent aren’t eligible.

Harner said the state is also launching a call center to accommodate applications at 833-500-8810.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.