Row houses in Philadelphia (Capital-Star file)
With the federal eviction moratorium set to end this week, state officials gathered in York County on Monday to urge Pennsylvanians who need help paying for rent to apply for assistance through an emergency assistance program.
“For nearly 18 months, Pennsylvania and the nation have endured the instability, anxiety, and dangers of a global pandemic,” acting Human Services Secretary Meg Snead, joined by local leaders, said during a news conference. “The federal moratorium on evictions was a reprieve to keep people safe and housed through the worst of these public health and economic crises, but we must act now and use this historic investment available through ERAP to prevent avoidable evictions and housing insecurity.”
Snead’s comments Monday underline a call her agency first made in May, urging Pennsylvanians at risk of losing their homes to take advantage of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
The program, which was created by The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, helps people who are facing eviction to pay past due and upcoming rent or pay utility bills. It passed Congress in late December.
The repeated call to action comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) moratorium on evictions is set to end this week, leaving many renters in uncertainty.
“Millions of Americans were living paycheck-to-paycheck before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the reality is that it just exacerbated the situation for hundreds of thousands across the commonwealth,” Snead said.
Pennsylvania received approximately $569 million in federal funds to assist renters, landlords and utility companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic for the 49 counties across the commonwealth that did not receive allocations from the federal government.
The department noted that an additional $278 million in rental assistance was directly allocated to Pennsylvania’s largest counties by the federal government, making a total of $847 million in rental assistance available. To qualify for assistance, a household must be:
- Responsible for rent on a residential property;
- One or more people within the household have qualified for unemployment benefits, had a decrease in income, had increased household costs, or experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- One or more individuals in the household can show a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; AND
- The household has an income at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI).
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