The ripple effects from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have increased the hardships that vulnerable households in Buffalo County are facing. The Nebraska Emergency Rental Assistance Program has awarded four hundred and fifty households in Buffalo County with financial assistance. The ERA program has funds available to assist Nebraska low-income households that are unable to pay rent or utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One household of 10 had illnesses that lasted 2 months and struggled to make ends meet. They faced many hardships as the mom lost her job because of the missed work days that she had to take off to recover and take care of her children. Permanent employment was difficult due to the illness in the household. They applied for the ERA with the help of the Community Response team and were able to successfully submit all forms and received assistance to help them get back on their feet. “This assistance was very helpful for me and my family and I am very grateful,” said the participant
When households in Buffalo County are in need they visit the local Emergency support agencies like Kearney Jubilee, Salvation Army, or Community Action Partnership. These agencies collaborate through the community response team to find the best supports for these households. The federal ERA program has been a huge resource to get 450 households help with their rent or utilities in Buffalo County.
“Since the Covid-19 pandemic started we have had people stepping foot in the door of support agencies that had never before needed financial assistance,” said Martha Marfileño, Central Navigator Buffalo County. We discovered 24% of those seeking services in last two years (in Buffalo County), entered the doors of helping agencies for the first time.
“For some families these hardships existed even before the pandemic and have only worsened, a few of the reasons that families and individuals are struggling are due to shortage of affordable rental homes and rentals available to low income households, experiencing unstable housing situations, unable to find affordable daycare, loss of hours, laid off work, having to quarantine, unpaid time off to isolate and or quarantine, high medical expenses from being hospitalized-COVID related, and “long haulers” still recovering from severely debilitating long term health problems because of COVID,” said Martha Marfileño, Central Navigator Buffalo County.
“Our local agencies are amazing at supporting individuals in need, but they needed extra supports these last two years to get everyone in our community fed, clothed, and housed. The ERA program has been a tremendous help in our community. We have been able to help so many more people than we thought we could because of this resource,” said Marfileño.
The program is open for applicants through the fall of 2022. To learn more see: https://coronavirus.nebraska.gov/