Together Omaha – a member of NLIHC’s ERASE (End Rental Arrears to Stop Evictions) project cohort – released a report on June 13, “Delaying the Eviction Wave: An Evaluation of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in Omaha.” The report analyzes the neighborhoods and demographics served by emergency rental assistance (ERA) in Nebraska’s largest city.
The ERASE project is NLIHC’s national effort to ensure that the $46.6 billion in historic aid enacted by Congress reaches the lowest-income and most marginalized renters. NLIHC’s ERASE Cohort comprises state and local housing partners that meet biweekly to advance strategies, policies, and legislation that accelerate equitable distribution of emergency rental assistance funds, promote tenant protections, and prevent evictions.
In the report, author Pierce Greenberg combines local ERA spending data (obtained through public records requests from the City of Omaha) and information from the Urban Institute’s Emergency Rental Assistance Priority Index to examine whether Omaha’s ERA program is serving renters with the greatest needs. The report presents the following findings:
- Between April 2021 and April 2022, Omaha’s ERA program distributed $42.9 million in rental assistance, effectively preventing more than 7,400 evictions.
- The average monthly rent of a household seeking emergency rental assistance was $1,035, more than the estimated affordability levels for eligible low-income households.
- Fifty-six percent of ERA recipients were making less than 30% of the area’s median income and another 27% were making less than half of the area’s median income.
- Maps and statistical analysis of ERA disbursement demonstrate that South Omaha is underserved by the city’s ERA program.
Although the majority of Omaha’s ERA recipients (83%) were low-income or extremely low-income households, there were discrepancies between low-income tenants served in North Omaha, which has the greatest concentration of ERA recipients, and low-income tenants in South Omaha, where 13.8% of people living in poverty are undocumented immigrants. This is likely due to the fact that, pursuant to Nebraska law, the City of Omaha requires individuals to be citizens or legal residents in order to receive ERA funds. However, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s ERA guidance and the law establishing the emergency rental assistance program do not impose restrictions based on immigration status. Language access is also creating significant barriers for ERA-eligible renters: the majority of households in South Omaha are Spanish-speaking households, but the ERA application is only available in English.
Overall, as the report shows, Treasury’s ERA program has been effective in preventing a wave of evictions in Omaha. NLIHC will continue to support and share the work of the ERASE Cohort, highlighting research, strategies, and best practices that advance the efficient and equitable distribution of rental assistance for the lowest-income and most marginalized renters.
Read the report here.
To learn more about the work of the ERASE Cohort, visit NLIHC’s webpage.