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Kansas emergency rental assistance program coming to a close


The program is running out of funds to disburse to tenants in need.

After allocating more than $250 million, Kansas’ emergency rental assistance program (KERA) is coming to a close.

The program, which was established in March 2021 with federal pandemic relief funds, is ending because the state is close to using up all of its funds. The program provided rent and utility assistance to more than 75,000 Kansans.

The state entered a hold phase on Wednesday, meaning that the program has received enough applications to spend its remaining emergency rental funds.

People in need can still submit applications for assistance during the hold phase. But the applications will not be reviewed or processed by the state unless more funds become available, said Ryan Vincent, the executive director of the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation.

“We may not have the funds to ultimately be able to review or fund those applications,” Vincent said. “We’ll have them ready, and if we end up receiving any additional funding … we can go back and fund some of those applications in the second hold phase.”

The state applied to the federal government for more emergency rental assistance funding but hasn’t received a response yet.

HumanKind Ministries, a nonprofit dedicated to emergency shelters and affordable housing, relied on emergency rental assistance to keep people out of shelters and in stable housing, said Erica Davis, the chief operating officer. She said residents are nervous about the program coming to a close.

“We are already seeing the impact with some of our residents who are very scared,” Davis said. “They had the opportunity to utilize KERA and are now having to reevaluate their finances and/or their situation.”

Davis said some residents are still struggling from having lost employment because of COVID-19.

“Losing this at this time has some of our residents concerned,” Davis said. “But we have case management service available, and we’re … trying to help make sure that they have plans in place and are looking at their Plan B right now.”

The Kansas Housing Resources Corporation put together a list of resources for people in need of housing or rental assistance now that the emergency rental assistance program is ending.

The city of Wichita ran a separate emergency rental assistance program, known as WERAP. It exhausted all funding on Sept. 28th and is no longer accepting applications.

Celia Hack is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, she worked at The Wichita Beacon covering local government and as a freelancer for The Shawnee Mission Post and the Kansas Leadership Center’s The Journal. She is originally from Westwood, Kansas, but Wichita is her home now.