More than 2,600 Nebraska homeowners get help from $50 million pandemic relief fund

By: - June 23, 2023 5:50 pm

(Getty Images)

OMAHA — More than 2,600 Nebraska property owners have received an average of $13,418 to help stay in their homes since the state early last year launched the pandemic-related Nebraska Homeowner Assistance Fund.

The program — which aimed to prevent Nebraskans from losing their houses over COVID-19 hardships — launched in February 2022 with a $50 million allotment from the U.S. Treasury Department.

It was part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. So far the state has distributed about $31 million.

Now officials are about to close the application portal. They are urging income-qualified homeowners to submit requests for funding by June 30.

Homeowner mortgage/utility assistance:

Online portal open through June 30,

The call center will be open, even after June 30, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Call 844-565-7146.

“We want to make sure we spend and allocate all the money to people who need it,” said Robin Ambroz of the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, which is administering the fund.

Those who visit the online portal after June 30 will get a chance to join a waiting list and be considered after those already in the queue — as long as funds remain available, Ambroz said. 

To qualify for the assistance, household income can’t be more than 100% of a person’s median income in their home county. 

At least one member of the home must have suffered financially because of the pandemic after Jan. 21, 2020. Reasons for hardship can include, for example, loss of employment or job hours and medical debt related to the pandemic.

In addition to covering mortgage delinquencies to prevent foreclosure, the funding can be used to cover past due utilities, internet service, insurance and property taxes.

In February 2022, then-Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced an assistance program for homeowners behind on their mortgage payments and property taxes because of COVID-19. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

(This homeowner assistance program is separate from the pandemic-related emergency rental assistance program, which targeted Nebraskans who lease, not own.)

The $50 million from the federal government for Nebraska homeowners allows up to 15% for administration fees. Homeowners are eligible to receive up to $40,000 per household (The cap originally was $30,000 but was later raised.).

So far, the average amount granted to 2,621 households receiving help has been $13,418, Ambroz said.

Funds are sent directly to the mortgage lender, utility or other service provider. 

Ambroz said the June 30 portal closure date was tied to the program fund dipping below a certain level. She said officials want to ensure that applicants in the pipeline get attention. NIFA officials expect to have distributed all available funding before the official close of the program, in September 2025.

“I think it has gone really well,” Ambroz said of the program. “There’s been a lot of demand.”


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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.