Human Services Acting Secretary To Pennsylvanians At Risk Of Eviction: Apply For Rental Assistance Now
Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead today issued the following statement on the ruling from the United States Supreme Court that struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s nationwide moratorium on evictions in counties with substantial or higher COVID-19 transmission. Residential renters and landlords should not wait to pursue assistance available through Pennsylvania’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
“We are once again in a period of great danger to health and well-being due to rapid spread of the COVID-19 delta variant. The CDC’s eviction moratorium has allowed people to remain housed – a basic need that is essential to keeping people safe as cases continue to rise in Pennsylvania and around the country. Without this moratorium, individuals and families may face imminent eviction as enhanced unemployment benefits lapse, the school year begins, and COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
“Pennsylvanians fearing eviction do not have to go through this alone. ERAP funding is available for unpaid rent, future balances, and rehousing and relocation costs necessary to help you find a safe house, but you must apply now. Our partners across Pennsylvania are working as quickly as possible to issue ERAP funds to tenants and landlords, but we cannot help you if you do not apply. If you are concerned at all about eviction, you need to start your application as soon as possible.
“To landlords and property managers – I urge you to exercise compassion and work with your tenants through this time. Eviction helps no one – these eviction filings will follow tenants beyond this crisis, and at the end of the process, these balances will not get paid. ERAP can give your tenants security while ensuring that you are made whole. Because there are no caps on this assistance, this aid can help both tenants and landlords stabilize after an incredibly difficult 18 months. Evictions should be an absolute last resort – please work with your tenants and let ERAP help.
“An eviction crisis affects more than just those losing their housing – health care systems, employers, our local economies, schools, criminal justice systems, and entire communities will be impacted. We must rally together now and help protect those who have been most affected by this pandemic and are in grave danger without the moratorium on evictions. I urge all Pennsylvanians to spread the word on ERAP so our families, friends, and neighbors know that ERAP is available to help people at risk of eviction. And if you are facing an eviction, do not wait – apply for ERAP now.”
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, $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 July by Governor Wolf. These resources will be available to support renters soon, so ample funding is available to help renters and landlords settle unpaid rent.
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 identification 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.