$120 million in second round of federal rental aid could be back in play

By: - February 4, 2022 3:51 pm
Nebraska State Capitol Building

The Nebraska State Capitol Building in Lincoln. (Rebecca S. Gratz for Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — State Sen. Matt Hansen of Lincoln has launched an effort to put extended federal assistance into the hands of Nebraska renters — challenging an earlier stance taken by Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Sen. Matt Hansen
Sen. Matt Hansen of District 26 speaks on the floor of the Nebraska Legislature at the Nebraska Capitol Building on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, in Lincoln. (Rebecca S. Gratz for the Nebraska Examiner)

Earlier this week, Ricketts told the Nebraska Examiner the state would not apply for a second round of federal emergency rental aid, calling the $120 million at stake “irresponsible spending,” and the kind that has “ushered in record inflation and surging national debt.”

He said the funding wasn’t needed because the state still had unspent money from the first round of rental assistance. He also criticized the second round of funding because applicants don’t have to show evidence of COVID-related financial problems.

The governor’s decision sparked frustration from some senators and advocates. They said Nebraska families need the help and noted that the money would be distributed to other states — not returned to the Treasury — if Nebraska did not partake.

Now Hansen has amended Legislative Bill 446 to allow lawmakers an opportunity to vote on accepting the second round of rental funds. A public hearing on the amendment is scheduled Feb. 11 before the Urban Affairs Committee.

Nebraska has until the end of March to decide whether to pursue the federal funds.

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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.