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Politics & Government

Your last chance to apply for Allegheny County's COVID rental assistance program is March 31

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Katie Blackley
/
90.5 WESA
No new applications will be accepted after March 31, 2022, for emergency Covid-related rental aid in Allegheny County.

Pittsburgh and Allegheny County’s joint Emergency Rental Assistance program, which has distributed more than $94 million in aid since it started a year ago, will begin to wind down at the end of this month.

New applications will not be accepted after March 31, though the program can make payments through May for renters whose applications have been approved.

More than 30,000 Allegheny County households have applied to the program; about 15,000 have received at least one rental or utility assistance payment so far.

Roughly $60 million in aid remains available, but program officials say they anticipate spending all those funds as the program wraps up, said Chuck Keenan, administrator in the Bureau of Homeless Services in the Allegheny County Department of Human Services.

“ERAP was a program that was designed to help people through the pandemic,” Keenan said, referring to the program’s acronym. “We stabilized… 15,000 households or so already. We'll continue to do that. But the program wasn't meant to be around forever.”

ERAP was much more massive than any previous local rental assistance programs prior to the pandemic, said Kyle Webster, general counsel for nonprofit Action Housing, which administered the program.

“To give some context, in a typical [pre-Covid] year, the entire county gives out $3 million or less in rental assistance program. In the month of February, we gave out about $12.5 million.”

The scale of the program shows the need for affordable housing in the community, Keenan said.

“ERAP has shown us what our need around affordable housing is in Allegheny County and what the resources we would need to solve that problem.”

Allegheny County’s program received an additional $6 million in funding recently that had been reallocated from other counties elsewhere in Pennsylvania that had not spent all of their funds; the county has also applied for additional reallocated funding from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury did not respond to a request for comment.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Service has reallocated at least $34 million in unused federal funds. The agency expects to make at least one more reallocation, officials said.

Allegheny County will continue to pursue whatever reallocated funds are available, Keenan said.

To apply for rental and/or utility assistance if you live in Allegheny County, visit https://covidrentrelief.alleghenycounty.us/ or call ACTION-Housing at 412-248-0021.

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