LINCOLN–(News Release Sept. 2)–Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird on Thursday recognized the success of the City’s legal and financial assistance programs during the pandemic and said the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County remain focused on preventing evictions in the community following the end of the federal eviction moratorium in August.
Gaylor Baird said that the City’s rent and utility program has assisted thousands of residents during the pandemic and distributed over 68% of the money received last March from the first round of Treasury Department funding. Over $3.5 million from the first round of financial aid remains to be distributed.
“So far, our rent and utilities assistance program has provided $8.3 million dollars to help over 1,700 families stay housed. Seventy percent of those funds have gone to support families with the greatest need, those with incomes below 30% of area median income. To put these numbers in perspective, this means the vast majority of funds have helped those whose income is $26,000 or below a year for a family of four,” Gaylor Baird said.
More information on housing and utility assistance and the application forms are available at both lincoln.ne.gov/rent and the Resident Resource page at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov. Tenants and landlords may also call 402-413-2085 for assistance.
In anticipation of increased eviction filings, Gaylor Baird said that the City’s Tenant Assistance Project (TAP) seeks additional attorneys and volunteers to continue assisting residents in need. Those interested in helping TAP are urged to contact the Nebraska State Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project at [email protected] or 531-220-6773.
TAP was awarded the 2020 Equal Justice Award from Legal Aid of Nebraska, the 2020 Good Apple Award from Nebraska Appleseed, and the Outstanding Pandemic Response Award from the Lincoln Homeless Coalition. TAP collaborates with UNL Law’s Civil Clinic, the Nebraska State Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project, and Legal Aid of Nebraska to provide free legal advice and representation to those in the community who are facing eviction.
Gaylor Baird commended Mindy Rush Chipman, Director of the Lincoln Commission Rights, for developing TAP, and said the program has had a successful year.
“Volunteer attorneys for TAP have provided legal assistance to 560 households, with a 98% success rate at preventing immediate eviction. In addition to legal representation, the City has utilized federal funds to hire a Housing Rights Coordinator. This Coordinator is present at every eviction hearing to connect landlords with the rental assistance funds we have available to help keep residents housed and ensure that rental property owners maintain their income and can pay their mortgages.”
For more information on TAP, visit lincoln.ne.gov/TAP.