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Curry Team Navigates Complex Programs to Help Residents Apply for Rental Assistance

by Suzanne Licata

While the pandemic continues in fits and starts, many families throughout the greater metropolitan area have struggled with the challenges presented by the roll out of governmental emergency rent assistance programs. Some landlords, like Curry Real Estate Services, stepped into the gap for their residents to help them navigate the various programs and receive rent relief.

“A number of our residents lost their jobs due to business closures, layoffs and restrictions or had to stay home with their kids who were home from school or got COVID themselves or had to take care of family members with COVID,” said Kathy Boyers, a 24-year employee and administrative assistant for Curry who has been helping the company’s residents in need of rental assistance.

“While many have stabilized their income, other residents’ situations are less certain,” she added. “For example, we have residents who couldn’t get unemployment insurance because their company calls them back for a week or two and then lays them off again, depending on its ability to keep a supply of computer chips. We put ourselves in their place and do our best for them.”

That has involved hours of watching webinars and reading the details of each program to learn how to help residents fulfill all the requirements as well as time on the phone with residents, program personnel, partnering charitable organizations and contacts in city and county governments. Some Curry staff have brought a laptop computer and sat with a resident to help them apply.

“Many residents do not have the wherewithal to scan and print the necessary documents, only having phones to submit the application,” Boyers said. “We are often a liaison to help guide them in the right direction for additional assistance.”

In the metro area, Boyers said there are three major rental assistance programs and multiple partner organizations working within them:

  • The Kansas City, Missouri Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) was later closed and transitioned to Missouri State Assistance for Housing Relief (SAFHR) and was only available to residents of Kansas City, Missouri in Jackson County, Clay County, Green County, St. Louis County, St. Louis City and St. Charles County.
  • Jackson County, Missouri applied for federal funds through ERAP for the many residents outside the city limits of Kansas City, such as Independence, Missouri, that needed assistance.
  • Clay County also applied for the federal funds through ERAP for smaller cities outside of Kansas City, Missouri such as Liberty, Claycomo and Gladstone.
  • The Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) is for all counties in Kansas except Wichita which applied for its own funding.

Boyers said the process requires a lot of patience but for many residents it has been just enough to help them get back on their feet. Successful applicants can get assistance for up to 12 months past due rent, apply more than once and even apply for three months of future rent.

“That gives them a bit of a breather if they are just getting back to work but are still dealing with other bills,” Boyers said. Since the Curry team started this effort, they’ve been able to help around 85 residents receive rental assistance.

“People still apply every day,” said Boyers. “I’ve been through my own share of trials. I am grateful for what I have and want to help people who are struggling.”


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