Kansas has developed the Kansas Eviction Prevention Program (KEPP) to provide relief for both landlords and tenants who face eviction issues.
In response to the challenges of social-distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have adapted by making their homes the place they receive health care, educate children, conduct business, and connect virtually for worship services, community meetings, and social gatherings. While moratoriums have provided tenants with temporary protection from evictions, rent continues to accrue each month, leaving families unsure how they will pay arrears, and leaving landlords without monthly income to pay bills and manage maintenance and upkeep.
KEPP provides rental assistance to households that have missed one or more rent payments as a result of the COVID pandemic.
“There’s a nationwide problem of course with folks not being able to pay their rent due to COVID related issues,” said Kansas State Representative Monica Murnan. “…anything from loss of employment, to illness, to just things changing because of COVID.”
Kansas has worked to develop strategies that would help keep people in their homes during the pandemic, according to Governor Laura Kelly.
“Keeping Kansans in their homes and businesses has been a top priority for my administration since the pandemic began,” Kelly said in a recent announcement. “Through this program, we will provide support to tenants and landlords experiencing pandemic-related financial stress, ensure families and businesses stay put, and keep Kansans safe and healthy.”
Early during the pandemic, Kelly issued an executive order that halted evictions and foreclosures.
“That was a good option for tenants…but they still owed the remaining money,” Murnan said. “… It gave them a little reprieve, but that didn’t provide much support to landlords. One of the things that the state decided to do was to infuse dollars that supported both the tenant and the landlord. This new funding that is available does that. It’s a very easy process to apply for, and it’s a combination of the tenant and the landlord applying together…something that benefits both, but that they both have a say in and both can participate in. I think overall it’s a good process, and I just want to make sure we get the word out about it.”
The landlords and tenants apply via a joint online process. If the application is approved, the landlord receives rental assistance funds directly from KEPP, applies KEPP funds to the tenant’s account, and waives late fees for the month(s) assistance was awarded. Approved tenants are eligible for a maximum of nine months of assistance, not to exceed $5,000 per household. KEPP serves tenants and landlords who have missed paying or collecting at least one rent payment since April 1, 2020, due to the COVID pandemic.
“I would encourage folks who are experiencing instability in their housing to check out this resource,” Murnan said. “It is indeed a good option for many families, and I hope it helps keep folks in their houses and supports the landlords as we get through this difficult time.”
Program funds are limited and only available for a short time. Applications will be processed in the order received. Those interested should apply as soon as possible to increase their likelihood of receiving assistance.
“There’s a link… It’s just super easy to do… You just fill in the form and the process starts,” Murnan said. “All the steps are in there. It’s so nice.”
Landlords and tenants can find easy to follow instructions and forms at the program’s website (KEPP@kshousingcorp.org.). The program is funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. It was authorized by Kelly’s Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Taskforce and is administered by Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC).