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Renters upset landlords won’t accept stimulus rent money

By Matt Flener

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    SHAWNEE, Kansas (KMBC) — Eviction notices are stacking up for Rarla Ridgnal at her Shawnee apartment complex.

“I’m still behind on so many things,” she said.

Ridgnal has lived at her complex for four years. She is without a job due to the pandemic.

She applied to a federal stimulus program administered through a Kansas state agency to help pay her rent, but she said her property manager will not accept it.

“He said it’s too many strings attached,” Ridgnal said. “What are the strings attached when you’re getting free money?”

KMBC 9 Investigates reached out to the property manager. A worker at the complex said the manager was off on the federal holiday. We’re waiting to hear back.

The federal eviction moratorium is scheduled to end July 31. That means thousands of people, like Ridgnal, could face tough choices on where to live next if their landlords won’t accept rental assistance.

“We’re definitely hearing a lot about people having difficulties with rental assistance applications,” said Vince Munoz, an organizer with Rent Zero Kansas.

Munoz said it is a problem playing out at apartment complexes all across Kansas. Federal stimulus money is there. But, the process to get it to renters is complicated.

“Landlords can arbitrarily deny rental assistance for whatever reason they want with no justification,” Munoz said.

Multiple rental assistance programs in Kansas and Missouri require landlords to fill out paperwork and receive rental assistance on behalf of the tenant. Rent Zero Kansas has recently advocated for direct rental assistance to tenants.

That is something Ridgnal would gladly welcome.

“I’m in survival mode at this point,” Ridgnal said.

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