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July 29, 2021

Federal eviction moratorium expires Saturday, Kenney says there's millions in federal aid available

Eligible residents can apply online for federal aid to help pay for rent and utilities to avoid evictions after the moratorium expires

Housing Evictions
Rental aid, federal eviction moratorium Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The federal eviction moratorium is set to expire Saturday, and Philadelphia-area officials are pushing for residents to apply for federal rental assistance funding to avoid evictions.

With the pandemic-era federal eviction moratorium set to expire Saturday, state and local officials are urging residents to apply for federal rental assistance aid to avoid being ousted from their homes. 

Mayor Jim Kenney announced Wednesday that funds are still available through both city and state rental assistance programs for residents struggling to pay their bills.

"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," Kenney said. 

President Biden announced on Thursday he's pushing to extend the moratorium, which was imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in light of the fast-spreading Delta Variant. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that the moratorium could not extend past July 31 without additional legislation.

Philadelphia is currently in Phase 4 of its COVID-19 Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance Program, which is offering $97 million in aid to eligible tenants at risk of eviction. This is the first phase of the program that includes aid for utility payments, the city said.

Data shows the city has spent 45% of its $127.5 million in rental and utility assistance for more than 7,500 households since April, when the fourth phase started. The city has dispersed more than $122 million since May 2020.

As of June 30, there are no maximums in place for rental assistance. Previously, the city capped aid at $2,000 per month. 

Philadelphia's pause on evictions ended at the beginning of July. The last of the city's safety nets for housing, the eviction diversion program, which requires landlords to apply for rental assistance and mediation before filing for an eviction, is set to expire at the end of August.

Rental or utility assistance is also available for eligible tenants across the state through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program

State representatives said there is more than $847 million in funding on the state level available to residents. Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead said she expects another $450 million in federal aid to come in.

As of June 30, 2021, a total of $133 million has been distributed to more than 30,500 households in the state.

How to apply for Philadelphia aid

Go online to start an application with PHL Rent Assist. There are currently no caps for monthly aid in place. 

To be eligible for aid, tenants must rent an apartment or house in the city and have a household income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income. Preference is given to unemployed applicants, or those below 50% of the AMI.

In the application, tenants must show that they are at risk for experiencing homelessness or housing instability, like past-due rent, past due utilities, an eviction notice, or paying over one third of their household income on rent.

How to apply for state aid

Most Pennsylvanians can apply for ERAP online through COMPASS or your county's local platform.

To be eligible for funding, a household must have at least one tenant qualified for unemployment benefits, have a decreased income, increased household costs or experienced another type of financial hardship. They must also show proof they are at risk for experiencing homelessness and have an income at or below 80% of the AMI.

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