February 29th, 2024

household lacfStaff with the Liberal Area Coalition for Families assist clients with applications for the Household Emergency Relief Program. L&T photo/Robert PierceROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


Among the issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic were the financial hardships to both individuals and families.

As part of the recent $6.4 million pot of money Seward County received from the State of Kansas’s Coronavirus Relief Fund through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Household Emergency Relief Program (HERP) was created to help alleviate some of those burdens.

Started Sept. 24 and set to run until Nov. 20, intake for the HERP program is being done locally by the Liberal Area Coalition for Families, and coalition director Sarah Mersdorf-Foreman said officials with that agency are working with the consultant firm, iParametrics, to make sure applications meet the criteria for money from the program.

“The county hired the coalition staff to help do intake and to meet with residents and to help them through the application process,” Mersdorf-Foreman said.

Mersdorf-Foreman said applying for the program can be done two different ways, either at home or at the former home of the USD 480 Education Service Center at 624 N. Grant in Liberal.

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“They then go through a case manager with iParametrics to make sure we have all the needed materials,” she said. “After that, it goes to the commission to approve the disbursement of funds, and then the funds are actually sent to either than the landlord or the gas company or electric company or any of the utility companies they applied for assistance with.”

As of Oct. 22, Mersdorf-Foreman said around 350 applications had already been received for the program. She praised the work of those helping people with the application process.

“The staff we have working here does a really good job about helping people get all the documents they need and getting everything updated,” she said. “We really haven’t had any issues right now.”

Mersdorf-Foreman said program clients include anyone living in Seward County.

“There is an income guide, and that’s listed on the sewardcountyks.org Web site,” she said. “They can check before they come in to see if they meet those income guidelines. If they don’t know how to access that, they can always call us or come up to one of the clinics.”

Intake clinics will take place at from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 20 at the ESC to help with the application process.

Mersdorf-Foreman said anyone in the county affected by COVID-19 due to layoffs, inability to get work, having extra expenses due to the pandemic and meeting income guidelines can apply.

“Anyone who has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 can apply,” she said.