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Emergency Rental Assistance Programs Available Now


Nearly one in five renters are behind in their rent, and thousands in Northeast Pennsylvania are threatened with eviction and utility shut-offs. In December 2020, Congress provided funding to establish Emergency Rental Assistance Programs (ERAP) as part of the Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2021. Pennsylvania received $569,807,597 dollars in assistance, and created the Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance Program. SB 109

Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, and Northampton Counties were able to apply directly to the U.S. Treasury for funding because they have populations of over 200,000 residents. These four counties will receive direct funding, in addition to a state allocation. Please see this chart for the total funding by county in North Penn Legal Service’s 20 county program area.

On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan which was signed into law and will provide more housing related assistance. Preventing Evictions - Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

The federal and state assistance improved many aspects of a program available last year, which had a cap on rent that was lower than most area median rents, and required landlords to agree to waive rent arrears above the $750.00. Landlords will be asked to participate and would need to submit a W-9 for payment. However, if the landlord will not cooperate with the assisting program, payments may be made to tenants, who must then make the payment to the housing or utility provider directly. The Treasury Department guidance on ERA published on March 16, 2021, is found here.

ERAP provides assistance to Pennsylvanians that are unable to pay rent and/or utilities due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. In addition to ERAP, counties may have other housing and homeless prevention funding that have different eligibility requirements. Renters can apply online through COMPASS in most counties: Compass Application

Eligibility Guidelines for ERAP

  • ERAP is for renters only. It does not apply to homeowners seeking mortgage or utility assistance.
  • Households must have a gross annual or monthly income that does not exceed 80% of the County’s Area Median Income (AMI). Funds may be targeted to renters with income below 50% of the area median income.
  • Households must demonstrate that they have been directly or indirectly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and face homelessness or housing instability.
  • If you or household member are unemployed, lost income, or had significant expenses and are behind on rent or utilities, you should apply for help in your home county.

Program Guidelines

  • Payment period (arrears and future assistance): March 1, 2020 – December 31, 2021
  • Up to 12 months rental assistance (arrears and future rent)
  • Up to 12 months utility assistance
  • No monthly cap on either rental or utility assistance

For more information and frequently asked questions, please follow this link to Compass/DHS: ERAP FAQ's. Local County websites are featured here, as they are available.

NPLS helps tenants in twenty counties of Northeast Pennsylvania. Here is a table including the amount of ERAP funds allocated from PA, and the additional direct funding received by four counties. Contact information for the organizations processing assistance applications is included where available. Residents can create an application on Compass – note that this application is separate from other applications through COMPASS for public benefits programs.