Rent Assistance

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 US Congress as part of the stimulus bill approved in December 2020.  The program is overseen by the US 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 implement their programs.  Below is information on the assistance available, how to determine if you are eligible and where to go to submit an 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?

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

If you live in Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, MO Emergency Rental Assistance Program


If you live in Jackson County, Missouri outside the Kansas City limits (e.g., Raytown, Grandview, Lee’s Summit, Independence, or other Jackson County cities or unincorporated areas)
Jackson County Emergency Rental Assistance Program


If you live in Clay County, Missouri outside the Kansas City limits (e.g., North Kansas City, Claycomo, Liberty, Excelsior Springs, Kearney, Gladstone, or other Clay County cities or unincorporated areas)
Clay County Emergency Rental Assistance Program


If you live in Missouri outside of Kansas City, Jackson County or Clay County
State Assistance for Housing Relief (SAFHR) Program


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


How Much Assistance Can I Get?

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 for your household size. 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 be provided with a table 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) and be at risk of losing your housing because you are unable to cover your rent and/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, to make sure you are eligible for the program. If you take time now to assemble these documents, you will be ready to get your application processed quickly.

These are the documents you should assemble for your application:

  • A copy of the photo I.D. for all the adults in your household (if you lack photo ID, programs are allowing other forms of I.D.
  • Your 2020 tax return or W-2 form, or two months’ worth of paycheck statements, or employer letter stating 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)
  • 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 that shows the amount that you owe
  • In the application form, you will need to provide the name and last four digits of the social security number for all the adults in your household (anyone 18 years or older)
  • 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 households expenses. If you are unable to provide such documentation, you’ll 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 will be able to 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 the 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 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.

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