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City, county officials roll out online form to help distribute nearly $15M in federal rent and utility aid
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City, county officials roll out online form to help distribute nearly $15M in federal rent and utility aid

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City and county leaders urged residents Thursday to apply for rent and utility assistance through a new online form created to streamline the local application process to receive federal coronavirus aid.

Landowners and tenants in Lincoln and Lancaster County can visit lincoln.ne.gov/rent to learn about eligibility and fill out an application for aid. More resources are also available at the resident resource page at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov. Those without internet access or who need help filling out an application can call 402-413-2085. 

In February, Lincoln received nearly $13.5 million in additional federal dollars to help prevent evictions and utility disconnections because of the pandemic. Lancaster County received about $1.4 million in federal aid — the first funds dedicated to helping tenants outside Lincoln with help paying rent and utility bills.

In the assistance program, payment checks go directly to landlords and can be used to pay off rent and utility debt dating to March 2020. 

Lincoln, Lancaster County net nearly $15M for rental assistance with federal eviction moratorium set to lapse

To qualify for the aid, renters must earn 80% or less of the median area income base, and their need must be related to the pandemic's impact on their ability to pay rent.

The new website was rolled out just weeks before the federal eviction moratorium is set to expire March 31. Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said there have not been extensive conversations about the city instituting its own moratorium.

"The eviction moratorium that is in place at the federal level we believe is likely to be extended," Gaylor Baird said.

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In the past, those who needed help had to call individual agencies for help. With the new online form and one-call dedicated number, the city says the process is simplified.

The city has helped more than 1,000 families pay off rent and utility debt with federal funds since the pandemic started more than a year ago, Lincoln Urban Development Director Dan Marvin said.

Lancaster County Commissioner Sean Flowerday said the county has received a dozen applications for about $80,000 from residents in Waverly, Hickman, Bennet, Martell and Firth.

"Please don't hesitate to ask for help," Flowerday said.

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'We thought we were living in pure bliss': Evictions continuing despite moratorium

PHOTOS: THE SCENE IN LINCOLN DURING THE PANDEMIC

Contact the writer at zhammack@journalstar.com or 402-473-7225. On Twitter @zach_hammack

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K-12 education reporter

Zach Hammack, a 2018 UNL graduate, has always called Lincoln home. He previously worked as a copy editor at the Journal Star and was a reporting intern in 2017. Now, he covers students, teachers and schools as the newspaper’s K-12 reporter.

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