WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - A Wichita woman is asking for help because she said she’s being evicted because her landlord is no longer participating in the Wichita Emergency Rental Assistance Program, or WERAP. 

Melissa Behrens, who lives at the Water’s Edge Apartments, said she came home from a trip with her sister to an eviction notice on her door. She’s been living at the complex with help from WERAP since 2020. 

“It’s not like I want to be here,” she said. “None of these people want to be here. None of these people want to have to use WERAP.”

The City of Wichita started the program to help people whose incomes were negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It just received another round of funding. 

“Me, I have other options,” Behrens said. “I have a great support system. I have great family and friends, but some of these people don’t have that.”

The City said similar situations to Behren’s have happened before. Landlords can choose not to re-certify the agreement to continue on with the program at any time. 

“A lot of times the landlords are just misinformed, so they don’t understand the processes on how we process the payments,” Na’shell Williams, program manager for WSCCAP, said.

The City’s Housing and Community Services Department hosted its first ever Housing Provider conference Friday. Williams presented to landlords, realtors and more on WERAP. 

“How do we keep our tenants to receive housing stability, and we don’t have homelessness on the street,” she said. 

Williams said she understands that the process can be difficult, but it’s worth it. And landlord Bill Vann agrees. He said he’s currently working with five tenants in the program. 

“It’s a little bit of a paper trail, but it always is,” he said. “But the benefit is, you know, those resources are coming.”

Part of WERAP is also helping tenants like Behrens who are evicted. Williams said one option is paying the money directly to the tenant who then pays the landlord, but this can be difficult. 

“If that tenant is evicted from living there, they will reach out and let us know that they’ve been evicted, and we will support them in finding another residence to stay in,” she said. 

Behrens said she’s grateful for all the help she’s received from her WERAP worker. 

“She’s still calling them, begging them to just accept the money and let her stay,” Behrens said. “And I just don’t understand, you know, they refused the money. Why would you do that?”