Source: Metro
Date: 9/17/2020
Byline: Jack Tomczuk

A rental assistance program aimed at helping Philadelphians stay in their homes has been expanded, and officials hope the change will allow more tenants and landlords to sign up.

The amount of aid available has been bumped up to $1,500 a month. The previous rate, which was capped at $750, has drawn scrutiny from Gov. Tom Wolf, who has urged legislators in Harrisburg to alter the program to accommodate pricer parts of Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia was able to increase the payouts by utilizing federal CARES Act money that went directly to the city to supplement the state program, officials said.

Anyone who has applied for the second phase of the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program will receive the improved benefits automatically. The Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation is still accepting applications through Sept. 30.

“With many tenants unable to pay rent, and a federal eviction moratorium in place, it is essential that we help our renters and their landlords to weather the storm,” PHDC executive Greg Heller said in a statement.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order allows tenants struggling to pay their rent to fill out a form to delay eviction through the end of the year.

To be eligible for the rental assistance program, tenants must have lost more than 30% of their income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also cannot have made more than the median income prior to March 1.

Payments are made directly to landlords, who must agree to not evict a renter for at least 60 days after the assistance stops.

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