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May 08, 2020

Philly launches COVID-19 emergency rental assistance program

Eligible tenants can apply for financial help between May 12-16

Housing Rent
Philly Rent COVID-19 Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The Philadelphia COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program will provide up to three months of coverage on rent through federal grant funding. Eligible renters must apply between May 12-16, 2020.

Philadelphia has launched an emergency rental assistance program that the city hopes will keep at least 3,000 families in their homes during the COVID-19 crisis.

As thousands of city residents struggle with losses of incomes, the city has searched for ways to help renters in need. Funding is now available through a Community Development Block Grant – or CDBG – provided under the federal CARES Act.

Enough funding is available to serve at least 3,000 eligible households for three consecutive months.

"Unprecedented job losses have placed financial pressure on both renters and landlords," Mayor Jim Kenney said. "The COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program will help thousands of Philadelphia renters and, in turn, help landlords. Keeping people in their homes is critical during this crisis."

The application window will be open from 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 12  until the deadline at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 16. Renters who don't have access to the internet or a smart phone will be able to get program and application information by calling 3-1-1.

To be eligible for assistance, renters must:

• Rent an apartment or house in Philadelphia
• Have a valid and current written lease signed by landlord
• Have lost income because of COVID-19

Renters do not have to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to be eligible.

Assistance is limited to renters whose households earn 50% or less of the area median income based on the size of their household, as established by the CDBG. By household size, that limit is as follows:

• 1 person: $33,850 per year
• 2 people: $38,650 per year
• 3 people: $43,500 per year
• 4 people: $48,300 per year
• 5 people: $52,200 per year
• 6 people: $56,050 per year
• 7 people: $59,900 per year
• 8 people: $63,800 per year

Income guidelines apply to household income before the COVID-19 related income loss.

When they apply, renters must provide:

• A valid and current written lease signed by landlord
Proof of income from before the COVID-19-related income loss for all adult members of household
Valid ID that matches name on lease

To apply renters will have to submit:

• Online application
• Housing Condition Survey
• Affidavit confirming loss of income due to COVID-19

All of these required documents are available to fill out through the website when the application period opens on Tuesday, May 12.

Renters are not eligible if:

• They live in public housing
• Receive other government rental assistance (Section 8/Housing Choice Vouchers, etc.)
• They have unpaid rent from before April
• They are in the process of being evicted

There also are requirements that must be met by landlords in order for renters to participate in the program. Landlords must:

• Accept the rental payment (the first three months of assistance will be May, June and July 2020)

• Have a rental license and be current on their Philadelphia taxes. If necessary, landlords will be given one week to resolve these issues with the city

• Not pursue eviction for non-payment while receiving rental assistance from the city or for six months after the final city payment

• Waive any late fees or penalties for rent not paid in April and May

• Provide six months after the final payment from the city to repay any missed rent from April and any unpaid rent from the period while the tenant is receiving assistance from the city

Individuals and corporations are able to make tax-deductible donations to the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has extended the state's ban on evictions and foreclosures through July 10 on Thursday. Philadelphia renters who are threatened with attempts to evict them on-site at their rental properties are advised to call 911, as these actions currently remain illegal under the governor's and city's orders.