Gov. Tom Wolf has made it easier for landlords and mortgagees to recoup losses from renters and homeowners who can’t pay rent because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In May, Wolf signed legislation providing $150 million in federal funds for rental assistance and $25 million for mortgage assistance for landlords and mortgagees who had tenants and borrowers who couldn’t pay rent because of lost income as a result of COVID-19.
Through the COVID Relief Mortgage and Rental Assistance Grant Program, the governor set aside up to $750 a month in payments for each applicant. Above that, landlords and mortgagees were expected to forgive the loss of payment.
But the program hasn’t been helping as many renters and homeowners as the government intended, according to a press release from Wolf’s office. And in response to that, Wolf changed the program to allow them to regain losses in rent and payments that are not covered by the $750.
The announcement comes a week after Wolf extended the deadline to apply for the program to Nov. 4.
“Program changes are still needed to keep people in their homes, but in the meantime, these changes will let more people get rental assistance and avoid eviction,” Wolf said. “I continue to urge the General Assembly to make changes to allow more affected residents to qualify because, now more than ever, all Pennsylvanians need and deserve an affordable and safe place to live.”
Additionally, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have halted landlords from evicting residents who don’t pay rent until Dec. 31.
The halt comes with several caveats. They include renters who make less than $99,000 a year and have signed declarations that they have exhausted their best efforts to pay rent and are likely to become homeless due to eviction. Those who qualify will still owe back rent once the moratorium ends next year.