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June 29, 2020

Philly launching second round of COVID-19 rental assistance program

More small business grants also available through state program

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

Another round of COVID-19 rental assistance will be available in Philadelphia for eligible tenants who are need of funding. Application materials are required from both tenants and landlords. Assistance may be provided for up to six months.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to leave millions unemployed and in financial distress, Philadelphia soon will accept applications for a second round of emergency rental assistance, officials announced Monday.

The first round of the program, launchd in mid-May, provided funding for more than 4,000 Philadelphia tenants to remain in their units over a six-month period. The assistance is provided through the federal CARES Act and distributed statewide by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Philadelphia's share of the program is $28.45 million.

In the second round of funding, some of the eligibility requirements have been broadened to assist additional renters in need. The second round will provide help to about 6,300 people. 

Qualified applicants will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis when the application window opens on July 6. Applications may be submitted until September 30, or until funding runs out.

The city provided some general guidelines about the second round of funding:

• Applicants must be Philadelphia residents.

• Landlords and renters must each provide information necessary to complete application materials.

• Renters must have lost more than 30% of their income due to reduced work hours or wages because of COVID-19, or have become unemployed after March 1 due to COVID-19.

• Renters who applied for Pennsylvania unemployment assistance must have done so after March 1.

• Renters’ income before March 1 must be no more than 100% of the area median income or $87,000 for a family of three. (The income limit for Phase 1 was 50% of AMI).

• Assistance is limited to $750 per month per household and $4,500 over six months.

• Payments will be made to landlords.

• Landlords must agree to the terms of the program and may not displace the household or begin eviction proceedings for at least 60 days from the final month of rental assistance.

All required documents to be completed by renters and landlords will be available at the website when the application period opens. Samples of the application have been posted for reference. 

Assistance is limited to renters whose households earn 100% or less of the area median income based on the size of their household, as established by Community Development Financial Organizations. By household size, that limit is as follows:

• 1 person: $67,770 per year
• 2 people: $77,300 per year
• 3 people: $87,000 per year
• 4 people: $96,600 per year
• 5 people: $104,400 per year
• 6 people: $112,100 per year
• 7 people: $119,800 per year
• 8 people: $127,600 per year

For households with more than eight people, an additional $7,700 per year should be added per member. Income guidelines apply to household income before the COVID-19 related income loss.

In the first round of the program, about 13,000 tenants applied for assistance. Those who are eligible and in need are advised to apply early and coordinate with their landlords to complete their portion of the application materials.

Those who live in other parts of Pennsylvania and are in need of rental assistance can apply through designated local offices for each county

The rental assistance program is one of several aid efforts the city has run during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A small business relief program distributed $13.3 million in grants and loans to 2,083 business across Philadelphia, with a detailed report released Monday breaking down the demographics of the assistance provided.

More small business relief is on the way in Pennsylvania through a new $225 million grant program, which will be administered by CDFO through the Department for Community and Economic Development. The application period for this program begins Tuesday.

Philadelphia has provided a list of local CDFOs that can accept grant applications from small businesses in the city.

Eligible businesses will be able to use the grants to cover operating expenses during the shutdown and transition to reopening, as well as technical assistance including training and guidance for business owners as they stabilize and relaunch their businesses.

Philly remains cautious about COVID-19 green phase 

Philadelphia reported 298 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday — a total covering three days. There have now been 25,991 cases confirmed throughout the city.

No additional fatalities were reported. The city's death toll stands at 1,579, including 810 nursing home residents.

Last week, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley announced that coronavirus cases in the city were beginning to rise again after weeks of steady decline. He warned of a possible "second wave" that may delay the city from entering the green phase of Pennsylvania's reopening process.

Farley said Monday the health department is still evaluating how to proceed.

"Daily COVID case counts in Philadelphia are no longer falling," Farley said. "That, combined with the rise of cases throughout the country, is troubling. To protect Philadelphia’s residents from a resurgence of the coronavirus, we will be cautious about any further restarting of activities. Philadelphia residents should be consistent in wearing masks when around others, safely distancing from each other, and washing hands frequently."

Additional updates about the city's plan for the green phase are expected Tuesday.