MEDIA – Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead recently urged Pennsylvanians at risk of eviction or utility shutoffs because of COVID-19 to apply for assistance available through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
Joining Snead were Vice Chair of the Delaware County Council Dr. Monica Taylor, Delaware County Councilwoman Elaine Schaefer and State Reps. Chris Quinn and Mike Zabel.
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.
On Aug. 26, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nation-wide moratorium on evictions in counties with substantial or higher COVID-19 transmission.
Help is available for anyone facing eviction, and residential renters and landlords should not wait to pursue assistance available through ERAP.
“Pennsylvanians fearing eviction do not have to go through this alone. ERAP provides an unprecedented investment in stability, well-being, and economic recovery for tenants, landlords, and utility providers as well as entire communities across the commonwealth,” said Snead.
“Evictions and housing insecurity will affect our economic recovery, our workforce, our schools, and all parts of our society. ERAP makes evictions preventable, and they should be an absolute last resort.
“I urge people to take advantage of the help that is available to protect themselves and apply for ERAP now.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created financial hardship for some residents causing them to fall behind on their housing and utility bills and some are now facing eviction,” said Taylor.
“This is terrifying for people going through this. We are here to remind those residents that there is help. We urge those who are in need of help to apply for this program.”
“Delaware County embraces the mission of DELCO ERA to provide COVID-19 recovery funds for a diverse range of renters and also to the rental housing sector and our local utilities,” said Schaefer.
“Delaware County is doing its part, in partnership with the Commonwealth and U.S Treasury to bring relief and peace of mind to our community.”
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.
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 U.S. Treasury, which is reporting data here. In total, $218.5 million has been distributed to more than 50,300 households in Pennsylvania as of July 31, 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 in June by Gov. Tom Wolf. These resources will be available to support renters soon.
For more information on ERAP, promotional materials, state allocation program data, and to learn how to apply, visit www.dhs.pa.gov/erap.