Many people around the country struggle to maintain the resources for ensuring that this need is met. The State of Nebraska is committed to providing assistance, counseling and resources to make housing more affordable for low-income renters and buyers. Additionally, the state government provides safe and healthy housing for the elderly and people with disabilities, reduces homelessness and dependence on shelter assistance and ensures the security of run-away or homeless youth. Services targeting these goals are offered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Nebraska Energy Office, Public Housing Agencies and various non-profit organizations across the state. The following provides information about these services and aims to assist those in need in locating appropriate programs to consult for assistance. Securing housing is not a burden that needs to be faced alone and Nebraska has the resources to help.
Housing Counseling Services in Nebraska
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has approved several agencies in Nebraska which offer advisory and counselling services to aid individuals and family in securing appropriate housing. Depending on the agency, these services may be offered as group workshops or as one-on-one meetings and cover a range of topics such as the following:
- Pre-purchase education for renters and buyers
- Information about financial management, budgeting and credit
- Guidance for the homeless seeking housing
- Mortgage delinquency and resolution advising
- Counseling for securing fair loans
Housing counseling services may be available in languages other than English. Local agencies can be found using the HUD website.
Rental Assistance in Nebraska
The HUD also runs an online search function to aid renters in finding affordable housing in Nebraska. Individuals can narrow their search by city, county, zip code, property name, by apartment type as suited for the elderly, families, those with specific health care needs, those with disabilities and by number of bedrooms. The results page will list the properties that meet the given criteria and contact information for each one.
Public Housing Agencies (PHA) in Nebraska offer housing vouchers to subsidize rent for low-income renters or those with disabilities. Renters should check at their local PHA to confirm whether services are offered for low-income housing, housing for those with disabilities or both. Some PHAs may offer additional services as well, such as down payment assistance for home-buyers or loan assistance for health- and safety-related house repairs.
Assistance for Utility Payments in Nebraska
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services runs a one-time emergency assistance program for low-income families in danger of having utilities shut off. In order to receive aid from the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), families must fall below specified income limit and submit an application with relevant utility bills. LIHEAP also provides emergency air conditioners to low-income families during the summer, provided there is someone in the household who is over the age of 70, below the age of six or who has specific medical needs. Applications can be obtained from the county office of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Additionally, the Nebraska Energy Office coordinates the efforts of seven non-profit organizations across the state to provide weatherization services to increase energy efficiency in the homes of low-income families. While this is not an entitlement program, as funds are limited, families can apply to be placed on a waiting list to have their home serviced as soon as possible. Weatherization services may include adding insulation, installing airtight weather stripping around windows and doors, repairing broken windows and inspecting and improving the energy efficiency of gas and water heaters. Families living in mobile homes, rented units or their own houses are all eligible to apply for weatherization. When necessary, priority is given to families with individuals who are over the age of 70, below the age of six or physically disabled.
Special Housing Services in Nebraska
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services offers a number of assistance programs for the elderly, adults and children with disabilities. Related to housing assistance are Adult Family Home services and Assisted Living services. Adult Family Home services coordinates a shared home for adults who need family support. Three meals are provided each day, but residents maintain significant independence. Assisted Living services, on the other hand, are residential facilities for adults who need support for daily activities like dressing and bathing. Those who qualify for Medicaid are eligible to receive a waiver to cover the costs of assisted living.
Services for Homeless Populations in Nebraska
A number of non-profit organizations throughout the state provide outreach and assistance programs for homeless individuals and families. These include the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless (MACCH) in the Omaha region and Heartland Family services in east central Nebraska. Both of these organizations provide housing referrals to people who are homeless. In some counties, moreover, they maintain temporary supportive housing while assisting residents in securing more permanent solutions.
Youth Emergency Services (YES), an organization based out of Omaha, provides resources for at-risk and homeless youth. These include an emergency living shelter for youth aged 16 to 20, transitional living apartments where youth receive counseling and assistance to prepare them to live independently in the community and maternity home apartments for youth who are pregnant or parenting and in need of support. Cedars Kids, based out of Lincoln, also operates a transitional living program for homeless youth as well as an emergency shelter. Other youth homeless shelters are provided by such organizations as the Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska.