Financial Help for Renters Affected by COVID-19

Help for families struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic is available through a new program funded by the U.S. Congress as part of the stimulus bill approved in December 2020.  The program is overseen by the U.S. Treasury Department and administered by states, cities and counties in partnership with local community organizations. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program can help families who rent their home get caught up on past due rent and utility bills. (Unfortunately, this program cannot help people who own their home.)

United Way is assisting Kansas City area cities and counties in implementing their programs. This page includes an overview of what assistance is available, how to determine if you are eligible and where to submit your application. The information provided here is general guidance. Each program differs slightly, so it is important to review the eligibility criteria and application process closely for the program serving the area in which you live.

How Can I Get Assistance?

You must complete an application and provide supporting documentation related to your identification, household income and financial need. Where you go to apply for assistance depends on where you live:

If you live in Kansas City, Missouri, visit:

If you live in Kansas, including Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth Counties, visit:
Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) Program

How Much Assistance is Available?

If you qualify, this program can help you get caught up on all your back rent and utilities, going back to April 1, 2020. If you owe rent or utilities from before this date, this program cannot cover those costs. Depending on your level of need, you may also qualify for help paying three future months of rent. While there is not a specific dollar amount on the level of assistance available, a household may not receive more than 12 months, except in limited cases where an additional three months may be available to stabilize housing.

How Do I Qualify?

This program is for people whose income is not more than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) for your household size. (AMI is the midpoint of a region’s income distribution – half of families in a region earn more than the median and half earn less than the median.) For example, if your household has 4 people and you live in Kansas City, MO, you cannot have more than $68,800 in total household income to receive assistance from this program. When you begin the application process, you will see a chart that shows income qualification thresholds for the area where you live.

To qualify, you must also have experienced a COVID-19 related financial hardship (reduced income, new expenses, etc.) and be at risk of losing your housing because you are unable to cover your rent or utility expenses. You will be asked to describe the circumstances of your financial hardship when you apply.

What Documents Do I Need to Provide?

To get ready to submit your request, you should begin assembling the documentation that the federal government requires the city to collect ensuring you’re eligible for the program. If you take time now to assemble these documents, you will be ready to get your application processed quickly. To apply, you will need:

• Copies of photo IDs for all the adults in your household (if you lack a photo ID, programs are offering other forms of ID).

• Your 2020 tax return or W-2 form, or 2 months’ worth of paycheck statements, or a letter from your employer with your monthly income (for all adults with income in your household).

• Documentation showing the amount of other income, such as child support, spousal support or self-employment income (for all adults in your household).

• The names and last four digits of the social security numbers for all the adults in your household (anyone age 18 or older).

• For rent assistance, a copy of your lease and notice from your landlord showing how much past due rent you owe.

• For utility assistance, a copy of your utility bill that includes your name and account number and shows the amount that you owe.

• You may also be asked to provide documentation of your COVID-19 related need, such as before/after paycheck statements showing loss of income, payment of healthcare expenses, child care expenses or credit card charges to cover household expenses. If you are unable to provide such documentation, you will be asked to describe your COVID-19 related need and explain why you are unable to provide documentation.

Can Multiple People in My Household Submit Separate Applications?

No. Only one application per household will be accepted. This means if there are two or three adults in a household, they must work together to submit a joint application. While only one application per household is allowed, you may seek assistance for more than one month’s rent and more than one utility bill.

Can Landlords Submit an Application for Assistance?

Landlords can apply for assistance on behalf of their tenants, but the application will require the tenant’s permission, and action on the tenant’s part related to demonstrating eligibility for assistance.

Can I Get Help with My Application?

Yes. Jurisdictions running the area rental assistance programs are partnering with community organizations who will assist with processing applications. A caseworker at one of these below organizations will get in touch with you to ensure your application is complete and – if you are eligible for assistance – they will work with your landlord and utility companies to process payments on your behalf.

NOTE: Because a high number of applications is expected, it may take a month or more to process an application. 

Local organizations providing assistance include:

In Kansas City, KS:
Economic Opportunity Foundation
Monica Sipple – (913) 279-6250

In Kansas City, MO:
Journey to New Life – (816) 960-4808
Metro Lutheran Ministries – (816) 285-3137
Greater KC Housing Info Center – (816) 931-0443
Guadalupe Center – (816) 421-1015
Save, Inc. – (816) 531-8340 ext. 260
Community Assistance Council (CAC) – (816) 763-3277

Working with the above organizations to implement the Emergency Rental Assistance Program: