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ERAP Funds are available to renters

Emergency Rent Assistance Program (ERAP) dollars are flowing in Warren County.

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller held a briefing about the program.

She said it helps provide stability to those who rent their homes and to those who own those properties.

“ERAP is a new safety net program available to families at risk of eviction,” Miller said. “This program is a big deal. It has the potential to stabilize millions of Pennsylvanians.”

She said a total of $847 million has been approved for the state.

“This program is deliberately designed to help people dig out of what may be some very deep holes,” Miller said. “It doesn’t matter if your monthly rent is $500 or $2,500 as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.”

The eligibility requirements include paying rent for a residential property; having lost employment or income or experienced an increase in housing cost; showing a risk of homelessness; and the household earning no more than 80 percent of the area median income – $51,900 in Warren County.

So far, in Warren County, there have been 36 applications.

“Out of the 36, two have been denied, 13 have been approved, and we have 21 that are in process or pending,” Warren Forest Counties Economic Opportunity Council Executive Director Bob Raible said. “So far, in rental assistance and utilities, we have committed $61,164,” he said. “Out of the $61,000, about $52,667 has been paid in rental assistance. Utilities come to about $8,500.”

There have been five applications from Forest County, with one approval and four pending, he said. The approved application was awarded $5,100.

There are many dollars still available. Warren County’s allocation was $2.5 million and Forest’s was $500,000.

“The program is going well,” Raible said. “We’re trying to process as fast as we can. We encourage people to go to the Compass website of the DHS and apply.”

He said checks to some approved applicants were going out on Thursday.

“It’s in your interest to act quickly,” Miller said. “It’s first-come, first-served. This money is here to help people. We don’t want to leave funds unspent…”

“If there are needy people, we want to be able to keep the money here,” Raible said.

“The people who have borne the brunt of this pandemic deserve to have a light at the end of this tunnel,” Miller said.

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