Homeless families and those at risk of becoming homeless in Philadelphia will soon have an opportunity for permanent homes, thanks to an infusion of 863 Emergency Housing Vouchers to the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The vouchers, worth more than $10 million, come from the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden in March.
In addition to providing permanent homeless to individuals and families or those at risk of homelessness, the vouchers can be used for those fleeing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking.
“This funding will allow us to help so many more people in desperate situations,” said PHA President and CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah. “We are grateful to our elected officials in Washington for understanding the circumstances that confront our society and meeting this critical housing need. I would like to thank HUD’s Secretary Marcia Fudge for moving swiftly to make these essential vouchers available, and for making affordable housing a federal priority.”
The emergency vouchers work the same as regular Housing Choice Vouchers. A recipient rents a house or apartment from a private landlord and pays 30 percent of their household income toward the rent. The voucher pays the rest.
The emergency housing voucher waiting list is separate from PHA’s regular Housing Choice Voucher waiting list, where because of the tremendous demand, families must often wait years to climb to the top of the list. The emergency vouchers are intended for people with urgent needs, ranging from disabled citizens to veterans to those escaping dangerous situations. Ultimately, this allocation of vouchers will help Philadelphians find and remain in housing, at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted serious disparities in low-income communities.
“Frankly, we can never have enough homes for all low-income households in Philadelphia, so not everyone who applies and qualifies will receive a voucher,” Jeremiah noted. “Applicants should also know that although this will be a separate waiting list, the process for applying can still be long and complicated.” PHA is expected to receive the voucher allocation on July 1.