In MontCo, Metro Philly, Potential for 15% Eviction Rate

By Emily Scott, Public News Service
For The Post

WASHINGTON DC – The pandemic-related federal moratorium on evictions has been extended through July 31, but the Biden administration said Thursday (June 24, 2021) this is its final extension. With the deadline in mind, groups helping renters in Pennsylvania are worried the assistance in place has been slow to reach those in need.

The state during January used $570 million it received from the federal government to set up an Emergency Rental Assistance Program for renters affected by COVID-19. A legal services’ attorney dealing with housing issues, Rachel Garland, said many applications are still being processed. Thirty days won’t be enough time to ensure those funds are dispersed, she added.

“It’s a real opportunity for tenants and landlords to be able to stabilize, while still waiting for tenants to be economically stable again,” said Garland. “So, an additional 30 days until the end of July definitely helps. We’ll take every 30 days we can get, but there’s going to need to be long-lasting programs that support tenants and landlords.”

Statewide, more than 93,000 households are currently at risk of eviction or foreclosure, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey. More than half of them live in the Philadelphia metro area, which includes Montgomery County. There the survey predicts more than 15 percent of tenants could lose their housing.

Montgomery County has established specific services to help those facing rental housing needs or served with eviction notices. They include the county’s “Your Way Home” program, and the Emergency Rent and Utilities program operated by the non-profit organization Montgomery County Family Services, with offices in Norristown and Pottstown.

In Lancaster County alone, more than 2,000 people have applied for the county’s rental assistance program. Shelby Nauman, chief impact officer of the Lancaster housing nonprofit Tenfold, said an added challenge during the pandemic has been the lack of affordable housing.

“What that is doing is really increasing the cost of rental housing,” said Nauman. “So, as this moratorium ends, we’re starting to hear stories of people who are having their rent increase upwards of 25 to 30 percent. And for folks on a fixed income, you know, that’s just devastating.”

Programs Nauman would like to see receive increased funding to support renters and stabilize the housing market include housing counseling and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit for developers. The credit would help increase the supply of affordable housing units, Nauman believes.

Editor’s Note: This article was supplemented with reporting by The Post

Photo by Nick Fewings via Unsplash, used under license