Emergency Rental Voucher Assistance Program Expanded Statewide

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Pawhuska, OK--- Monday, March 1st, 2021, The Osage Nation Housing Department (ONHD) rolled out the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program. In one of the last bills signed by former President Trump, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, included $800 million for Native American Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA).  The Osage Nation applied to the US Treasury Department and was awarded $1,579,289.42 from this fund for emergency rental assistance. 
 
A temporary COVID ERA voucher program has been established to implement this award.  This ERA program is restricted to current Osage members only.  Applicants must have lost their job or suffered a financial difficulty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  All applicants must also be classified as low income (households making less than 80% of the median income) per HUD guidelines.  Mortgage assistance is a specifically prohibited use of this funding, a change from prior Osage Nation housing voucher programs.   
 
The new service area for this outreach is the entire State of Oklahoma. 
 
Approved members can apply for past due rent and/or utilities as well as up to three (3) months future rent.  Those approved for relocation expenses can receive help towards security deposits as well as three (3) months future rent.  Any one household that reapplies can receive up to a cumulative total of twelve (12) months in emergency rental assistance.  
 
The Housing Department has developed a simplified application that can completed, submitted and approved 100% remotely.  We will accept any in-person applications with social distancing protocols.    This application can be found online at www.osagenation-nsn.gov/what-we-do/housing.
 
The deadline to spend these funds is no later than December 31, 2021.
 
The coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic has created both a public health crisis and an economic crisis in the United States.  The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) determined that a peak in monthly economic activity occurred in the United States economy in February 2020, designating the end of the longest recorded United States expansion, which began in June 2009.  In addition to this loss, Native American tribes have been affected more specifically by the COVID-19 impacted Tribal Gaming loss which has almost prevented their ability to provide essential governmental services such as health care, education, and public safety at a time when the need is highest.
 
James Weigant, Director of the ONHD gave a glimpse into what the program is doing from the start saying, “I just signed off on our first approved application.  A single Osage mother of two who lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma was laid off due to the COVID-19 economic impact.  She exhausted all of her state unemployment benefits in February 2021.  She has no current income for March and we were able to cover her past due rent and utilities, plus three months of future rent.”  Inspired by this initial success case, Weigant further commented, “I have a feeling this program will gain some momentum.  We will provide some real relief for those in need.” 
He continued, “last August we rolled out a supplemental COVID housing voucher program and that funding is nearly gone.  This new funding has stepped in at the exact right time to allow this important assistance to continue.  I am excited that we can now offer rental assistance to Osages across the entire State of Oklahoma.” said Housing Director James Weigant.              
Any questions about this program, or to submit an electronic application, please send to voucher@osagenation-nsn.gov.   The Osage Nation Housing Department can be reached at 918-287-5310 or toll free at 800-490-8771.
 
For more information about the Osage Nation House Department and the COVID ERA, visit: https://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/what-we-do/housing
 
For more information, contact: ON Communications Department
                                                                                Office: 918-287-5599
                                                                                Email: press@osagenation-nsn.gov

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