What to Know About the Erie County Emergency Rental Assistance Program
Last month, Erie County Care Management opened Emergency Rental Assistance Program funding to eligible renters, landlords, and utility providers in Erie County PA. As the name implies, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) furnishes rental and utility assistance to those adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was established through the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 this January, with $25 billion in initial funding to be distributed to the nation’s states and territories.
Approximately $569 million in ERAP funds will be distributed among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties — with the Department of Human Services overseeing disbursements for 49 of them. The 18 remaining counties — including Erie County — received direct allocations through a qualifying administrative agency. In our case, that’s ECCM.
Who is eligible for rental and/or utility assistance?
Three conditions must be met to be eligible for rental or utility assistance through the ERAP:
- At least one individual in the household has qualified for unemployment, seen their income reduced, piled up significant costs, or experienced some other financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability as a result of not being able pay off accumulated expenses (arrears).
- A household income that is at or below 80 percent of the Erie County median. Household income determinations are either based off of total earnings for the 2020 calendar year or household income at time of application.
Note that individuals living in subsidized or Section 8 housing can still receive assistance through the ERAP so long as those costs are not reimbursed through another program — that is only the non-subsidized portion of rent/utilities can have the relief funds applied.
Who is prioritized for rental and/or utility assistance?
- Eligible households wherein an individual has been unemployed 90-plus days will be prioritized for rental/utility assistance.
- Households with household incomes that fall at or below 50 percent of the Erie County median.
- Those whose pre-existing housing-related arrears have accumulated to a point that eviction is imminent.
How long do eligible households receive assistance?
Eligible households can receive assistance for up to one full year, with the possibility of a 3-month extension, pending the household’s risk of experiencing housing instability and the amount of ERAP funds still available. Once a household’s arrears have been reduced to the point that they are no longer at immediate risk of eviction, landlords or renters must reapply for assistance every three months, at which time ECCM will reassess the overall financial status of the household.
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program has been given a federal funding cutoff date of Sept. 30, 2022. ECCM expects its current funding to last through September of this year.
Register for the ERAP with ECCM
If you’re struggling to pay the rent and utilities and your overall housing stability is in question, please do not hesitate to apply to the Erie County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (instructions and items needed for application included in link). Interested parties can call 814-923-5512 to request a paper application, apply in-person at ECCM (1601 Sassafras St., Erie, PA 16502), or apply online.