With a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision ending the nationwide eviction moratorium that has been in place since the early days of COVID, individuals and families in Chester County who are facing challenges in paying rent and utility bills brought on by the pandemic, can receive help through the Chester County Emergency Rent & Utility Assistance Program.
Chester County received $34.5 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury and the PA Department of Human Services, to help cover emergency rental and utility bills for individuals and families who have been severely impacted by COVID-19. To date, $14.5 million has been distributed.
“The eviction moratorium was designed to be a temporary measure until more permanent solutions could be found,” said Chester County Commissioners Chair Marian Moskowitz.
“Chester County residents who are worried about being able to make rent and pay their utility bills still have resources available to them to ensure they can remain in their homes.”
To apply for funding, residents should call 2-1-1 and select “Option 2” three times in a row. The 2-1-1 assistance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Through 2-1-1, callers can verify eligibility and be referred to one of the Chester County Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance providers.
“We are pleased to be able to offer this lifeline to our residents,” Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell said.
“The procedures we have put in place, supported by multiple partners throughout the County, make the application process quick and simple.”
The rent and utility grants are available to individuals and families in Chester County who are obligated to pay rent and who:
• Qualify for unemployment or have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19
• Demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability
• Have a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median – family of 1 = $54,150 and family of 4 = $77,300. (Amount may be subject to change.)
• Those who are eligible can use the emergency rent and utility funding to pay for outstanding rent, electricity, gas, water and sewer; and energy costs such as fuel oil or propane, over a 15-month period.
Details of the program and eligibility can also be found on Chester County’s home page, chesco.org, and select “Emergency Rent Relief.”
“We are doing everything we can to keep Chester County families in their homes as we continue to fight the pandemic,” said Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline.
“We are already assisting more than 1,700 families, but we want to make sure we’re able to reach every single person in need during this difficult time.”
Five housing organizations – Friends Association, the Housing Authority of Chester County, Open Hearth, Inc., Oxford Neighborhood Services, and Human Services Inc. – are working with the applicants to process payments to landlords and utility providers.
Chester County has more than a year – until the end of September 2022 – to allocate the remaining funds, but County officials encourage anyone who needs rental assistance to call 2-1-1 for help now.