Tenants, landlords can seek pandemic relief

County expecting up to $2 million

June 25, 2020 Cranberry Local News


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Rent and mortgage assistance is coming for county households contending with lost jobs or substantial income loss because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The county commissioners at their Wednesday meeting approved a resolution for the county Housing and Redevelopment Authority to apply for and administer funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Rent Relief Program.

County officials hope Butler County will receive about $2 million of the $175 million in federal CARES funds received by the state Housing Finance Agency for struggling renters and homeowners.

Those whose household income does not exceed the area median of $68,472 and who became unemployed after March 1 due to the pandemic, or tenants and mortgage holders who are experiencing at least a 30 percent reduction in annual household income resulting from reduced work hours and wages related to the pandemic, are eligible, according to the resolution.

Rent Relief Program funds can be used to assist eligible households with up to six months of rent incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30.

The maximum amount of assistance available is $750 per month per household.

Tenants who receive funding will see payments made directly to landlords.

If the county receives $2 million, that would allow 440 households to receive $750 for six months of rent incurred, said Amanda Feltenberger, the county human services department's director of integrated services.

Landlords who have experienced loss of rental income also can apply for the funds, but can only receive a maximum of $750 for each rental property, regardless of rent amount, said Commissioner Kevin Boozel.

The housing authority will begin accepting applications July 6.

The application and more information on eligibility will be available on the county and housing authority websites, the commissioners said.

Boozel said the maximum household income allowed for most relief programs is a percentage of the median area income, but the Rent Relief Program allows eligibility for 100 percent of median income.

Leslie Osche, commissioners chairwoman, said lists of those furloughed from restaurants, retail businesses and other entities could be provided to the county housing authority, so it could target individuals for potential relief.

“Anything we can do for our residents who were struggling through all this COVID-19 pandemic is dramatically appreciated,” Boozel said. “A lot of this was out of people's control.”

He said retaining residents and landlords is a county priority for continued community strength and vitality.

According to the PHFA, tenants cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent until after July 25, per an executive order signed May 7 by Gov. Tom Wolf. However, rent for the months missed due to the pandemic are still owed to the landlord.

Even after July 25, landlords must provide a 30-day notice to vacate before filing for eviction.

Tenants cannot be charged for late fees or penalties for rent that is delinquent between March 27 and July 25, according to Wolf's order.

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Paula Grubbs

Paula Grubbs

Paula Grubbs is a Butler County native who has been with the Butler and Cranberry Eagle newspapers since June 2000. Grubbs has covered the Mars School District and Middlesex Township for over 20 years with the Eagle and her former employer, the Cranberry Journal. She also covers Adams Township, Evans City and Mars in addition to events and incidents throughout Southwestern Butler County as assigned. Grubbs has taken the lead at the Cranberry Eagle in reporting on shale gas development, which has been a hotly debated topic in the recent past, both locally and nationally. A 1979 graduate of Butler Senior High School and a 1994 graduate of Geneva College, Grubbs has won a Golden Quill and four Keystone state awards, plus an award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Grubbs enjoys following the Penguins, Pirates and Steelers, volunteers with the Connoquenessing Creek Cleanup each summer, and loves spending time outdoors and bird watching at her Penn Township home. Grubbs is the daughter of James R. Davis Sr., of Center Township, and the late Maxine Davis. She has two grown children, Jacqueline and Thomas.