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PHILADELPHIA— July 1, 2020 — State Senators Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery), Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) and Director Robin Wiessmann from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) announced a new program that will help renters and homeowners impacted by the economic slowdown related to the coronavirus pandemic, alongside Pennsylvania housing advocates. 

PHFA opened up applications for rent and mortgage relief on June 29. Review of those applications will begin July 6. The $175 million assistance program is funded by dollars the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus allocated as a part of the PA CARES Plan, which directed federal aid to those hit hardest by the pandemic. 

“This assistance program will help ensure we don’t see a surge in evictions and foreclosures next month after executive orders have expired and the courts can begin processing new cases,” Sen. Hughes said. “I am grateful the legislature could come together and help those who were at risk of losing shelter through no fault of their own as a result of the pandemic. We know housing is essential to leading healthy and safe lives and this program will help provide stability to so many of our people in need.” 

Renters and homeowners begun submitting applications for assistance on June 29. The applications are available on PHFA’s website by clicking the red “CARES” banner advertising the program.  Fact sheets and other information to help answer potential applicant questions are available on the application website.

“I am happy to announce this tremendous effort to prevent eviction, foreclosures and homelessness in Pennsylvania due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am thankful to the advocates and my colleagues in the Senate who made this initiative a reality,” said Haywood. 

PHFA is partnering with organizations across the commonwealth’s 67 counties to help process applications. Renters will submit applications and supporting documentation to county partners. Homeowners seeking assistance will have the options to submit applications directly to PHFA online or printing the application and mailing the completed forms to the agency.  

“We know people have been eagerly awaiting applications for this assistance, and they will be available Monday,” said PHFA Executive Director and CEO Robin Wiessmann. “This CARES funding for renters and homeowners is vital for helping people stay in their homes and reducing some of the stress associated with the current pandemic. Stable housing is critical for beginning our economic recovery from this health crisis.” 

The General Assembly directed funding Pennsylvania received $3.9 billion in federal aid for through the federal CARES Act largely through the Senate Democratic Caucus’ PA Cares Plan. That plan included $175 million to assist struggling renters and homeowners.  

PHFA’s call center will be available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist the public and help with questions about the programs. The toll-free number is 1-855-U-Are-Home (827-3466). Callers should listen for the prompt mentioning CARES assistance for renters and homeowners. The county organizations to which CARES applications are submitted will also have webpages offering useful information. 

The CARES funding for renters and homeowners must be completely distributed by Nov. 30, 2020, although it is expected the assistance will be exhausted before the deadline because of the tremendous need by people hurt financially by the pandemic.

The full press event can be found here.