Human Services Local Updates
March 8, 2021
Emergency Rental Assistance Program
Venango County Community Support Services (CSS) has received Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. These funds will be used to assist the residents of Venango County who are struggling with rent and utilities due to a COVID-19.
If you are financially impacted by COVID-19 and currently rent your home, you may be eligible for past and future assistance on your rent and utility payments towards your past due utility bills. All applicants must meet specific income guidelines and demonstrate that they were affected by COVID-19 after March 13, 2020.
Online applications are available through COMPASS: https://www.compass.state.pa.us
To access the application on COMPASS, a link for ERAP will be made available under “What We Offer” in the top menu bar.
Paper applications are available by contacting Community Support Services (CSS) at 814-432-9767 or by stopping into the office at 1 Dale Avenue, Franklin, PA 16323, to pick one up. A printable version of the application is also available here: Click for Printable Application
Questions may be directed to Kit Woods or Terri Mucio at 814-432-9767.
ERAP Program State Guidelines
Emergency rental assistance will be offered to eligible individuals and households in Venango County who are obligated to pay rent on a residential dwelling and someone in the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income or other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19, has demonstrated a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability and has a household income that is not more than 80% of the Area Median Income. With priority given to rental households that fall into the 30% and 50% AMI.
Emergency utility and home energy assistance to be offered to individuals and households who are rental households within the county who have utility and home energy obligations , including electricity, gas, water/sewer, trash removal and heating and the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income or other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19, has demonstrated a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability and has a household income that is not more than 80% of the Area Median Income. All utilities will need to be in the household members name or be able to prove that they are the person responsible for payment. This proof can be in the form of rental lease, utility bill, statement from the utility provider that the individual was making payments on the account prior to COVID-19. With priority given to rental households that fall into the 30% and 50% AMI.
The following definition has been established to assist the agency in qualifying COVID-19 related to rental households who are experiencing homelessness, at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability:
Assistance is available for rental households with an obligation to pay rent on a residential dwelling or utility and home energy obligations:
- One or more members who qualified for unemployment benefits, experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly to job loss or reduction of hours and unable to find employment
- Individuals who need to terminate employment due to school closures, homeschooling, or caring for disabled or persons vulnerable to COVID-19
- Households with one or more members who demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability
- Households with an annual or monthly household income up to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for the household. With priority given to household that fall into the 30% and 50% AMI
Documentation Requirements: A grantee must document that one or more members of the applicant’s household either:
Qualified for unemployment benefits
Experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Written and clause for this determination is permitted and must be either a written attestation signed by the applicant that one or more members of the household meet this condition or other relevant documentation regarding the household member’s qualification for unemployment benefits. If the grantee is relying on clause the applicant will be required to provide documentation that one or more individuals within the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability,
- A past due or termination of their utility or rental eviction notice, a letter from a homeless shelter or domestic violence shelter or similar type of programs.
- Unsafe or unhealthy living conditions – letter from physician, code enforcement officer or support staff i.e. case manager, Social Service agency.
- Any other evidence of risk, as determined by the grantee.
- If the applicant is unable to provide the above documentation they must attest in writing a signed document stating they are unable to provide this and they understand that payment of assistance will be up to a monthly maximum of 100% of the Fair Market Rent or the Small Area Market Rent for which they reside. Applicants must also attest that they have not received and does not anticipate receiving, another source of public or private subsidy or assistance for the rental costs.
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