Urban Affairs

Federal rental assistance application requirement approved

Lawmakers passed a proposal March 23 requiring Gov. Pete Ricketts to apply for a second round of federal emergency rental assistance, but the bill won’t take effect until after the federal deadline to do so.

Sen. Justin Wayne
Sen. Justin Wayne

LB1073, as introduced by Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne, originally would have created a state Department of Housing and Urban Development. The bill was gutted on general file by an amendment offered by the Urban Affairs Committee to make way for an emergency rental assistance proposal from Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen.

Under the federal program, individuals are eligible for up to 12 months of back rent and three months of future rent — up to $20,000 — which is paid directly to their landlords. The federal government has extended the program for three years and made an additional $120 million available.

Nebraska is one of only two states not to apply for second-round funding and the governor has indicated that he will not apply for it, saying it is not needed. Hansen has said that the first round of funds were underutilized due to a lack of promotion and a cumbersome application system.

The U.S. Treasury has extended the application deadline to March 30. Current assistance is scheduled to end Sept. 30.

An initial vote to pass LB1073 with an emergency clause — under which the bill would take effect immediately — failed on a vote of 26-16. Thirty-three votes were needed.

Senators then passed the bill 26-15 without the emergency clause. The governor has five calendar days, excluding Sunday, to veto the bill if he chooses. Thirty votes are required to override a veto.

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