This week, Nebraska Appleseed joined the many voices across the state urging our leaders to accept $120 million in federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds that would help Nebraskans struggling due to the pandemic to stay housed. These federal funds, specifically earmarked for Nebraska, were inexplicably rejected by Governor Ricketts, making us one of only two states in the country to turn them down.
The Governor says he is rejecting the funds because Nebraskans don’t need them, but the evidence shows we clearly do. As of January 2022, U.S. Census Bureau pulse data shows that around 75,000 Nebraska households are behind on rent, with another 54,000 households likely unable to make rent next month.
Meanwhile, Douglas County is burdened with the highest volume of eviction cases they have seen throughout the duration of the pandemic, with 135 eviction hearings set in the next week alone. If you attend any of these hearings you will hear a common refrain; employers are cutting hours at work due to the pandemic and families are unable to afford their rent as a result.
Shortly after the Governor said he would reject the emergency rental funds, he announced that Nebraska would accept federal funds to launch a program to provide emergency mortgage assistance for homeowners. The idea that homeowners need assistance but renters do not is hard to justify, particularly given that renters are much more likely to be negatively impacted by the pandemic. The same U.S. Census Bureau survey that shows 75,000 Nebraskans being behind on rent shows that only around 15,000 Nebraskans are behind on their mortgage. Further, while there are 54,000 Nebraskans who say they will be unable to make rent next month, only about 3,600 people indicated they wouldn’t be able to make next month’s mortgage payment.
To be clear, providing mortgage assistance to pandemic-impacted homeowners is a good thing to do and will help keep people housed. However, accepting federal funds to help a small number of Nebraska homeowners while rejecting federal funds that would help tens of thousands of Nebraska renters is indefensible.
While the Governor has made his unfortunate stance clear, the Nebraska legislature has a chance to put Nebraskans first. Senator Matt Hansen’s amendment to LB446, AM1737, would require Nebraska to accept and administer ERA funds to those who need them.
Submit a letter of support for AM1737 by Thursday (2/10) at noon. Email the Urban Affairs Committee Clerk at email@example.com.
- With the subject line “Letter of support for AM1737”
- Include in your emails “I’d like this letter to be included in the public record.” Note: If you’ve already sent your email, you can send another email including this to ensure that the letter is included in the public record.
Learn more here:
Let’s reverse the Governor’s decision to make Nebraska one of only two states to reject federal rental assistance funds. There’s a hearing next Friday at #NEleg – tell the committee that Nebraskans support AM1737.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 🧵(1/4)
— Nebraska Appleseed (@neappleseed) February 3, 2022
The Governor\’s decision to make Nebraska one of only two states to reject federal rental assistance funds is indefensible. 🧵(1/5)
— Nebraska Appleseed (@neappleseed) January 28, 2022