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Douglas County Commissioner looking to streamline rent assistance program

Posted at 6:14 PM, Oct 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-08 19:14:44-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Since the rent assistance program got up and running, the county has given out around $2.4 million to those needing rent assistance.

While it’s helped out thousands, the county likely won’t use all the money, unless they alter the program.

“You can do the math, we’re not going to get there unless we change something,” says Cavanaugh.

Currently, residents needing help have to show a litany of documents, proving their citizenship, their rental agreement and that their income was hit by the pandemic.

Commissioner Jim Cavanaugh wants to do away with that.

“Instead of, kind of a long-form application process, with a lot of documentation, a process that would be much more streamlined with a series of yes, no questions,” says Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh says this process would get the money out fast, saying he trusts county residents to tell the truth.

“The same as they do with the tens and millions, and billions of dollars that they give out to big corporations, with the same self-attestation,” says Cavanaugh.

“We think most people are every bit as honest as big business.”

But Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson doesn’t like it.

“I don’t see it going anywhere with the county board,” says Borgeson.

She says the county is obligated to spend the money on COVID-19-related expenses and if somebody got rent assistance that didn’t need it, the county may be forced to reimburse the feds.

“We have to use the CARES Act money, for COVID-19 related, rent-burdened individuals,” says Borgeson.

Borgeson says she would like to spend the money not used for rent assistance for local non-profits, or towards mental health programs.

Cavanaugh says he’s asking lawyers for the county to look into, and then have it come before the board.