Missouri, Kansas renters can apply for relief through Emergency Rental Assistance Program

Posted at 4:49 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 20:47:27-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Keeping up with monthly bills was a challenge many people faced during the unemployment crisis that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic, but a new program aims to help relieve the pressure for those residents in Kansas and Missouri.

For example, Cassandra Dickerson lost her job and went months without receiving a payment from the Kansas Department of Labor, or KDOL.

She organized three marches at the Kansas State Capitol after seeing so many other people in a similar situation posting on social media about their struggles, both mentally and financially.

“What I am trying to do as the organizer is to give hope and, even though I’m in the same place, I don’t want people committing suicide because of this," Dickerson said.

She knows how the stress built up as bills went unpaid, so does Kissey White.

The last check she received from Kansas for unemployment was in December 2020.

“I was borrowing money from family," White said. "By the time I got my stimulus check, I owed out like $1,500 just from trying to stay afloat from not receiving any funds from KDOL."

But there's a new relief program available, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, that should help bridge the gap for people struggling the most.

“A bill was passed in December of 2020 that allocated roughly $25 billion to this Emergency Rental Assistance Program and it has been allocated to the different states," Maria Lopez, the manager of the Customer Affairs Department for Evergy, said.

Missouri received around $400 million and Kansas was awarded nearly $200 million.

Renters can apply through Sept. 30 for help paying past due rent and utilities as long as the bills were incurred since April 2020.

“I think one important thing for people to know about these funds is that there’s no limit on the amount of money that a customer can receive," Lopez said.

Future rental assistance is also available up to three months.

“I definitely will be calling them today to see what kind of help I can get," White said.

To qualify for the program, one or more people in a household must be receiving unemployment benefits and the household's estimated income must be at or below 80% of the median income for that county.

“Do I think this would be helpful? Absolutely," Dickerson said. "Obviously, this is a big stress for people who are behind."

Evergy has compiled a list of available resources for customers on its website.