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Jon Andreassi/Observer-Reporter

Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead speaks Tuesday during an event in Washington.

With the end of the federal moratorium on evictions, state and local officials are asking tenants and landlords alike to make use of Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funding.

Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead visited Washington Tuesday to promote the program. She said with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end the eviction moratorium and the end of expanded unemployment benefits, many Pennsylvanians face immediate eviction.

“A recent survey from the U.S. Census Bureau found that more than 132,000 Pennsylvanian adults were living in households where they were somewhat likely or very likely to be evicted in the next two months,” Snead said.

In addition to rent, ERAP funds can also be used to help pay utility bills.

According to Snead, the average applicant will receive about $4,300. Since the end of August, Pennsylvania has paid out about 30% of its allocated ERAP funding, she said.

“This program is here to help both tenants and landlords. ERAP makes evictions preventable, and they should be an absolute last resort. There is no reason to let this money go unspent,” Snead said.

For landlords, Snead said the program helps settle unpaid rent and provides financial stability.

“I urge landlords and property managers to exercise compassion and work with your tenants through this time,” Snead said. “Eviction helps no one, and a wave of evictions would create a ripple effect of negative consequences for our economic recovery, our workforce, our schools and all parts of our communities.”

The ERAP program is run locally through Blueprints, formerly known as Community Action Southwest.

Blueprints Vice President of Operations Jeffrey Fondelier spoke after Snead. He echoed Snead’s words that there is plenty of funding available, but they need people to apply.

“Since March 8, 2021, we have processed 1,035 applications for rent, utility assistance,” Fondelier said. “Six hundred thirty-five of those households have been brought current on rent and utility payments, and for many of those we continue to provide ongoing assistance.”

According to Fondelier, Blueprints will have disbursed $3.5 million in assistance by that end of this week, which represents 58% of their allocated funding.

Those in need of assistance can apply at blueprints.org. Eligibility will depend on the applicant’s income. A family of four making $66,400 a year would qualify for the program.

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