‘A godsend’: Hundreds head to Lincoln event for rent and utility assistance

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – On Friday, Lincolnites flooded the Urban Development Department’s Rent and Utilities Assistance Event to apply for financial help after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program has dispersed money to 5,000 Lincoln homes, totaling $40 million in financial aid. With the end of the program swiftly approaching, officials hope to help more people impacted by COVID.

The fund for rental and utility assistance still has $1.5 million to $2 million.

“Those funds need to be spent before the end of the year, so we need to be able to expedite the processing of applications before the deadline,” Urban Development Director Dan Marvin said.

The department was not able to help all of the hundreds of attendees, so people were given applications to take home.

They also received handouts with additional information on aid outside of the Urban Development Department.

“So this is a community resource list. It includes resources for food, employment, housing, hygiene products, clothing, services for folks who are elders, services for parents and families,” said Kaitlyn Evans of the Tenant Assistance Project, a group that helps people fight evictions. “It’s just kind of a quick guide for folks to access services around the community.”

Since COVID’s onset, the utility assistance has decreased the number of electricity and gas shutoffs and kept families together.

“If you look at the eviction numbers over the last couple of years, they’re dramatically lower because of an event like this, so I think its kept people housed, kept people from being homeless and generally it has done a lot of good,” Marvin said.

Event attendees have nothing but gratitude for the impact this and similar initiatives have had on the Lincoln community.

One man recounted his COVID experience.

“COVID hit us pretty hard, so this program is a godsend,” Lincoln resident Alonzo Green. “It gives people hope. There’s a lot of people who feel like they want to give up because they don’t have anywhere to go or they can’t feed their babies, so this program gives them the strength and encouragement to keep living.”

To qualify for financial assistance from the Urban Development Department, your hardship must be directly related to COVID and you must earn less than the median household income in Lincoln.

That’s $50,750 for a single person and $72,500 for a family of four.

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