Utility and rental assistance available through ERAP

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CHAMBERSBURG—Franklin County residents at risk of eviction or utility shutoffs because of COVID-19 are urged to apply for assistance available through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead joined Franklin County Commissioner Chairman Dave Keller and other local leaders to make sure residents are aware that 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.

Help is available now for anyone facing eviction, especially as federal, state and local eviction moratoriums end. Residential renters and landlords should not wait to pursue assistance available through ERAP.

“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. Pennsylvanians fearing eviction do not have to go through this alone,” Snead said. “I urge people to take advantage of the help that is available to protect themselves and apply for ERAP now. 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.” 

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have far-reaching consequences, and we urge those struggling with housing insecurity or making utility payments to take advantage of ERAP. We are grateful to have a community partner like South Central Community Action Programs that is dedicated to facilitating this type of critical assistance that can have such a significant impact on our residents when they may otherwise be facing dire situations,” added Keller.

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 Mar. 13, 2020, on a residential rental property. Renters may be eligible for assistance with other expenses related to housing such as relocation expenses, security deposits, application fees, accrued late fees, or attorney fees related to eviction proceedings.

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 due to or during 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 (such as 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 from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 available to support renters and landlords feeling the strain of this economic insecurity across Pennsylvania.

Additional rental assistance funds included in the American Rescue Plan Act were appropriated in Act 24 of 2021 signed in June by Governor Wolf, and these resources of more than $603 million are now available to support renters.