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Emergency Rental Assistance Relief Program for Nebraska

On February 22, 2021, Nebraska rolled out its Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) relief program to help low-income households unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emergency Rental Assistance program makes $158 million dollars available to qualified Nebraska renters. This program excludes Douglas and Lancaster Counties because Douglas County, Lancaster County, City of Lincoln, and City of Omaha will be administering their own local programs:

  • Omaha received $22.2 million and City officials will utilize a non-profit organization to distribute funds. Omaha city officials are currently finalizing the contract.
  • Lincoln received $15 million and will use existing housing and utility assistance programs to distribute its funds.
  • Programs for Douglas County, Lancaster County, City of Lincoln, and City of Omaha are expected to open in March.
  • Detailed information regarding these programs is expected soon.

The Emergency Rental Assistance program currently provides assistance from April 1, 2020 to November 30, 2021. This particular program is for renters only and homeowners are not eligible. Renters must be low-income households as determined in one of two approaches.

The first approach uses the Adjusted Gross Income on the Internal Revenue Service Form 1040 for 2020. The second approach uses total household monthly income at the time of application for at least the two months prior to application submission. With this method, income eligibility is reassessed every 3 months. Additionally, a renter with a roommate or roommates may apply but the renter must be on the lease to qualify. Renters receiving unemployment benefits may apply for this program as long as they meet eligibility requirements.

An eligible Nebraska renter may use funds to pay for rent and utility expenses up to $20,000 during the life of the program. A resident may apply for up to 12 months back rent (but no earlier than April 1, 2020) and up to three months future rent, but only for a maximum total of 15 months assistance.

Utility expenses covered by this program include electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash and removal services, as well as other energy costs such as fuel oil. Telephone, cell phone, internet, and the like are not covered. Only utilities paid by the renter are eligible for reimbursement. If a landlord pays for certain utilities out of the rent he or she receives, that utility is not eligible for reimbursement. Funds can also be used for late fees up to 10% of approved rent paid.

How do you know if you are eligible? If you answer ‘yes’ to all of the following, you are eligible.

  • Are you a Nebraska resident?
  • Are you a resident of any county except Douglas County or Lancaster County?
  • Are you a renter with a current residential lease or rental agreement?
  • Does your household currently meet income guidelines?
    • See Appendix A – Area Median Income (AMI) by County – 80% Income Eligibility Limit (pages 9-11)
  • Are you a U.S. citizen or legal resident alien?
  • Is your landlord not an immediate family member?

Additionally, to be eligible, you must say ‘yes’ to just one of the following:

  • Are you unable to pay all or part of your rent due to a COVID-19 financial hardship (e.g., qualify for unemployment, have experienced a reduction in household income, or incurred significant costs)?
  • Can you show a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability (e.g. past due notice, proof of non-payment of rent, or eviction notice)?


Nebraska’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program:

For other COVID-19 Resources:

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