Officials Urge Pennsylvanians to Apply for Rental Assistance Ahead of Federal Eviction Moratorium Expiring

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead on Wednesday joined Mayor Jim Kenney, Senator Anthony H. Williams, Representative Jordan Harris, and Gregory Heller, senior vice president at Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation and executive director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, to discuss the upcoming end of the federal eviction moratorium and urge Pennsylvanians at risk of eviction or utility shutoffs because of COVID-19 to apply for assistance available through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s federal moratorium on evictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic will end after July 31, 2021.

ERAP can help people who are facing eviction pay past due and upcoming rent or pay utility bills or other costs necessary to help them be safely housed. Pennsylvanians experiencing housing instability or at risk of eviction are strongly urged to begin their ERAP application as soon as possible and not wait until the eviction moratorium ends.

“For nearly 18 months, Pennsylvania and the nation have endured the instability, anxiety, and dangers of a global pandemic. 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,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “A safe, stable place to call home is foundational to good health and overall well-being, and it is essential as we continue to get our communities back on track and recover from this crisis. If you or your tenants are behind on rent or having trouble paying utility bills, start your ERAP application now and let this program help you stabilize and move forward.”

“Keeping people in their homes and supporting landlords affected by COVID-19 has been our priority. The pandemic and the availability of federal funds made creating the program more urgent, more feasible, and more scalable,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Philadelphia is grateful to the Biden Administration, Congress, Governor Wolf, the General Assembly, and the Department of Human Services for this critical ERAP funding to accelerate our rental assistance program, placing over $122 million into the hands of Philadelphia tenants and landlords to help more than 23,000 households since May 2020.”

“The City is grateful to Governor Wolf, the PA General Assembly, and DHS for this funding that is helping thousands of Philadelphia families stay in their homes, avoid eviction, and prevent homelessness,” said Gregory Heller, “The availability of this funding allowed us to build a robust delivery system in Philadelphia and across the Commonwealth to distribute aid to tenants. We owe it to Pennsylvania’s families to distribute the ERAP funds as quickly as possible, while also building long-term solutions to combat housing instability and ensure that evictions become the route of last resort.”

The Wolf Administration established the ERAP in partnership with the General Assembly through Act 1 of 2021 to distribute $569 million to Pennsylvania households through partnerships with local leaders. 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 available to support renters and landlords feeling the strain of this economic insecurity across Pennsylvania. Counties are reporting data on the Act 1 distribution of funds monthly to DHS that are available online here. Counties and localities that received a direct allocation report on this funding to the United States Treasury, which is reporting data here. In total, $133 million has been distributed to more than 30,500 households in Pennsylvania as of June 30, 2021.

Funding for ERAP comes from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and further rental assistance funds included in the American Rescue Plan Act were appropriated in Act 24 of 2021 signed earlier this month by Governor Wolf. These resources will be available to support renters soon.

“The pandemic and its effects are still reverberating throughout our communities. People are still struggling to pay their bills after months and months of uncertainty, and they should absolutely be applying for ERAP assistance. Just because we are returning to a new normal does not mean we can ignore the struggles that people have faced since March of 2020,” said Senator Anthony H. Williams. “Millions of dollars are available to help struggling Pennsylvanians with their past due rent and utilities, and this assistance will be what really starts returning households to normalcy.”

“There’s tens of millions of dollars available to help Philadelphians and I strongly urge those who are struggling through no fault of their own to apply for this assistance as soon as they can,” Representative Jordan Harris said. “With the end of the eviction moratorium looming, there’s no time to waste and we can’t have our friends and neighbors in danger of losing their home when this help is available.”

Households may be eligible for up to 18 months of assistance to cover past-due or future rental and/or utility payments. The amount of a household’s monthly rent or utility bills does not preclude eligibility, but the amount of ERAP assistance provided to a household is determined by program administrators at the county level. Assistance can be provided to a tenant for future rental payments, and for unpaid rental or utility arrears that were accrued on or after March 13, 2020 on a residential rental property. Counties may choose to provide additional assistance to eligible households if funds remain available.

Either tenants or landlords can apply for this assistance, but a tenant does not need a landlord’s permission to apply and use this assistance. This program is an opportunity to help ease circumstances for both parties, so landlords and tenants are strongly encouraged to work cooperatively to secure this stabilizing assistance. ERAP is overseen by DHS at the state level but administered locally by county and municipal partners. Pennsylvanians can learn how to apply in their county of residence online at www.dhs.pa.gov/ERAP.

To qualify for assistance, a household must be responsible to pay rent on a residential property and meet each of the following criteria:

  • One or more people within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits, had a decrease in income, had increased household costs, or experienced other financial hardship during or due directly or indirectly to the COVID-19 pandemic; AND
  • 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, which varies by county. Income limits by county are available on the DHS website. Resources (like bank accounts and cars) are not relevant to ERAP eligibility.

Applicants will need to provide the following information: head of household’s personal information; income information for all household members 18 and older; rental lease and amount owed; landlord’s name and contact information. If applying for utility assistance, applicants must provide utility expenses and utility provider information.

For more information on ERAP, promotional materials, state allocation program data, and to learn how to apply, visit www.dhs.pa.gov/erap.


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