This week, United Way of Pennsylvania appealed to the PA General Assembly for an extension of the CARES Act Mortgage and Rental Assistance Program (HB 2868.) If enstated, this extension would continue to provide financial relief for housing costs for Pennsylvanians who have lost wages during the COVID-19 crisis.
The memorandum that UWP sent to the PA General Assembly is as follows:
“Did you know one of the key concerns for Pennsylvanians during the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic is paying for household expenses including mortgage and rent payments? On September 30, 2020, the application deadline for the CARES Act Mortgage and Rental Assistance Program will close and many struggling Pennsylvanians will be one step closer to homelessness without your help.
Recently, United Way of Pennsylvania (UWP) conducted a COVID-19 Impact Survey to assess the financial and household burdens resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Lamentably, two out of every five respondents were worried about rent or mortgage payments. Of even greater concern, over 75% of those respondents were ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households who typically lack the financial resources to afford basic necessities or savings. For ALICE households, an emergency that results in an expense can mean financial catastrophe. According to survey results, COVID-19 is the emergency and the catastrophe is looming.
According to PHFA, as of the end of August, less than 10% of the funds that were allocated to county organizations for rental assistance had been utilized. While those numbers have increased in September, communities need more time to match the dollars the General Assembly allocated to qualified families, and some improvements to the statute will help make that possible. Subsequently, PHFA identified problems with the CARES Act Mortgage and Rental Assistance Program, as established by Act 24 of 2020, and proposed changes to encourage more participation and ensure favorable outcomes for all involved parties. In addition, PHFA proposed extending the application deadline to October 31, 2020. All PHFA’s recommendations are included in House Bill 2868 (Helm), which is currently before the House of Representatives on second consideration. However, time is running out and a lapse of the deadline will create administrative issues, which will create further hardship for applicants.
UWP humbly requests your assistance with preventing financially stressed Pennsylvanians from becoming destitute. Please contact leadership and ask them to take immediate action on House Bill 2868, Printer’s Number 4392.”