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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City is one step closer to getting Emergency Rental Assistance into the hands of people who need it.

On Wednesday morning, the council’s finance committee approved hiring more workers to help.

The city’s rental assistance program said it hasn’t had enough staff to get the money out of the door, so the finance committee believes more employees will speed up the process.

The committee directed the city manager to establish a processing and call center with ERA.

“We need a processing and call center so people can come and get access to the additional money that will be made available to us,” Councilwoman Melissa Robinson said.

Right now, only 95% of part one of the ERA money has been used. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver’s office said there’s still $6 million available to help in the first phase.

Cleaver wants to be sure the phase two money, worth another $11 million, is also spent and not lost.

“Every committee meeting that I have to sit in there and listen to people say, we don’t need to do this or that because you guys have not spent this money and so forth,” Cleaver said.

“In addition to that, I just want to say that we have spent about $8.5 million to date serving almost 2,000 households,” said Jennifer Tidwell, division manager of Housing and Community Development.

The ERA program said 10 people have already been hired and are training.

The applications for ERA’s phase one are closed, and once that money is spent, people can apply for ERA’s phase two.

The next step of this process is the full council vote on Thursday.