There is a statewide initiative that is available in Douglas County as well that focuses on preventing evictions from occurring. Local non-profit organizations administer the program for low to moderate income tenants and families that are threatened with an emergency.
The homeless prevention services, which are run in partnership with groups such as Heartland Family Services as well as the Omaha Nebraska Health and Human Services Department can provide cash grants as well as case management to tackle the underlying social problem that the family is faced with. Solving the cause of homelessness needs to be a multi-faceted approach, and the Douglas County agencies do their best to meet this goal.
Homeless prevention in the form of eviction help – This is the reactive approach to addressing a crisis. When a tenant has a pay or quit notice from their landlord or the apartment community manager, they can apply for money to help pay the arrears on their rent. This form of assistance can also be used to pay utility bills, ranging from water to heating or electric.
It is called “reactive” as the family that is struggling should really seek help way before they have a vacate notice from their landlord. When a person does not do that, and instead is facing imminent eviction, it is often too late to assist them. However the non-profits that take part in these eviction prevention programs will still help to the best of their ability.
Douglas County tenants may be given support in both monetary terms (as noted above) as well as other methods. One of the most common ways is to put the tenant in contact with a pro-bono law firm. There are lawyers in Omaha Nebraska that will review the case made against the tenant by the landlord. If they think the eviction is questionable or even illegal, then assistance will be given to them during the court filing process.
Several other Homeless Prevention Services that are offered are also often combined with social services. One of the primary organizations that offers this in the Omaha region is the Salvation Army. Their program combines either no interest loans to pay rent arrears or water bills to a holistic, case management process. Families that are living in poverty, and that are threatened with an eviction, can enroll into many different social services at their office.
The disabled in the region can access homeless prevention as part of the Housing and Urban Development Shelter Plus Care program in Douglas County. This rental assistance program covers a wide variety of clients, from people that are mentally ill to those with substance abuse problems. The federal government provides cash grants to local agencies, such as the United Way, to administer this in the community. Clients can apply for therapeutic and psychiatric services as well, which are readily available.
There are two other resources for stopping evictions in the community, including Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as well as ESG. Any money from the government is based on the applicant's poverty level. The grants are used for helping those in a disaster as well as tenants with a vacate notice or that are out of heating fuel during the winter. People can only apply at most one time per funded year, but the FEMA service does run out quickly.
Homeless assistance is also part of rehousing – When all other options have failed, and the individual or family is now homeless, then Heartland Family Services as well as other agencies try to place the resident into a new home. This often starts with emergency shelter or a motel voucher. It will then often lead to permanent housing placement.
When the applicant has a source of income, they can also apply for short-term financial aid to pay for a portion of first months rent or security deposits. This form of support can get the tenant off on the right path, thereby reducing the chances for a future eviction to occur.
All of the programs are fully integrated together to improve the chances for success. Staff will meet with the tenant to give them in-home case management. This will help with the stabilization process, which is critical for these homeless prevention programs to be effective over the long term.
Douglas County Homeless Street Outreach – Individuals who lost their home to a foreclosure, or that were evicted from their apartment, and that are now sleeping in places not meant for human habitation can benefit from this. Volunteers go across the Omaha region and help the homeless access mainstream benefits including motel voucher programs, shelters, and legal support. They also give them the basic living needs they need, including food or winter clothing.
The main number for referrals to agencies such as the Heartland Family Services is (402) 444-6666, and people facing homelessness can request support.
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