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City of Lincoln has paid out $470K in rental, utility assistance thus far in pandemic
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City of Lincoln has paid out $470K in rental, utility assistance thus far in pandemic

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The city of Lincoln has paid out $470,000 to support monthly rent, mortgage payments and utility bills since receiving federal coronavirus relief funds this summer. 

So far, CARES Act dollars and other federal funds directed to the city to address the economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have supported 177 payments to help out people struggling to meet their financial commitments. 

An applicant can make multiple claims for assistance, but Lincoln Urban Development Director Dan Marvin told the Lincoln City Council the program has likely served close to 177 people. 

Twelve payments are pending this week, according to Marvin. 

Since July, the city has secured more than $2 million to aid residents struggling to pay their monthly housing and utility bills. 

City officials hope to receive additional CARES Act dollars to bolster the effort, but at a minimum, a Sept. 11 award from the federal government extended the program by at least two months. 

"With the $1.1 million, we could be into May," he said. 

Still, Urban Development staff have noticed a decline in evictions as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's moratorium continues through the end of the year, he said. 

They project Lincoln could see 50 evictions a week when the moratorium lifts in January. 

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The city program currently doles out about $80,000 a week.

"We could be exhausted much quicker," Marvin said, if the end of the moratorium brings a deluge of rental assistance applications. 

A host of social service organizations help the city administer the program, screening applicants to assess whether they qualify, and the Lincoln Community Foundation writes the checks to the landlords and utility companies, Marvin said. 

Some of the funds can support up to six months of rent and utility assistance, he said. 

Despite the CDC's eviction moratorium, people who have trouble paying their rent should seek out this program, Marvin said. 

Some city rental assistance funding used in the program expires at year's end, so renters who have not been evicted but who are delinquent on their rent should not wait to apply, he said. 

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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