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Jackson County to begin administering new round of rental assistance

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Posted at 4:30 AM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 07:34:24-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Monday, Jackson County, Missouri, legislators entered an agreement with Independence-based Community Services League to have the social services agency administer $11.5 million through an emergency rental assistance program.

The county received the money from the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a result of a budget and COVID relief bill Congress passed in December 2020.

“For many families, this will be literally a lifeline for them to help provide a sense of normalcy going forward,” Doug Cowan, president and CEO of Community Services League, said.

The agency hired four new full-time employees to handle applications. Over the past two weeks, Cowan said more than 1,000 renters have filled out interest forms on the county’s website for the program.

He anticipates rolling out the applications shortly. In the meantime, he encourages people who wish to apply to gathering the necessary supporting documents noted in the online application checklist.

The emergency rental assistance program will cover past due rent and utility payments.

In Jackson County, money can also go toward two months of future payments. A list of eligibility requirements are available online. The county set aside some money specifically to help people who’ve been evicted.

Cowan said housing is the first step for families to find stability.

“Once they’re not worried so much about their night to night sheltering and they’re safe and stable under one roof, then that’s when we can really work with them through our employment services, financial coaching, other assistance programs that take and build on that stability and really help to them reach financial self sustainability,” he said.

Jessica Gabriel is a success story. The mother of three moved her family to the Kansas City area about two years ago so her oldest child could be closer to Children’s Mercy Hospital for treatment.

At the time, neither Gabriel nor her husband had jobs in Kansas City. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they fell behind on rent.

Community Services League put them in touch with a different form of assistance. Now Gabriel has a job and has kept her rental home. She wants other families to find the stability she has.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help for one thing,” she said. “Every one is really caring and compassionate. There are people out there who are going to help you.”

Jackson County’s program serves people in the county who live outside the city limits of Kansas City.

The city and Clay County each launched their own rent assistance programs using money from Congress.

For people who live outside those jurisdictions, Missouri has its own statewide program. Kansas received roughly $200 million and also created a statewide program covering every county except Sedgwick.

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