Pike County offers help to pandemic-afflicted renters

Milford. The assistance is for those at risk of losing their housing as a result of income loss or increased expenses.

| 15 Apr 2021 | 06:20

Pike County Human Services is offering rental assistance for residents affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The county’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program was launched several weeks ago. Robert Ruiz, the county’s director for human services, said on April 7 that it aids county residents who are struggling financially because of the pandemic, earn less than 80 percent of the area median income, and are qualified for unemployment.

Ruiz said the applicants must be renting a house or an apartment, at-risk of losing their housing, and able to certify they are without help.

He said households falling below 80 percent are rare in Pike County, and that a family of four can’t make more than $63,300 a year to be eligible.

Applicants can be struggling with income loss after having been laid off or had an increase in expenses due to the pandemic and are unable to find employment due to Covid-19, or unable to work because of contracting Covid-19.

Assistance is available for rental arrears accrued after March 13, 2020, with a 12-month limit. Arrears must be satisfied before the program can help with current or future rent, and applicants must recertify as income-eligible every three months.

Utility and home energy bill must be the tenants’ responsibility in order for tenants to get assistance for these costs. Phone and cable are not eligible, but internet costs for remote work or school are eligible.

“We’re having a challenge with that right now, to separate it out, because people have cable, phone, and internet combined,” Ruiz said.

Applicants will be required to produce a photo ID, a signed rental or lease agreement, and evidence of unemployment, if applicable. They must also produce a statement from the landlord of past due rent payments or notices to evict, if applicable, along with copies of past utility bills, if utility assistance is requested. Income must be documented for all applicants 18 and older.

Landlords will need to sign the agreement and provide W9 forms. Payments will be made directly by paper check. Landlords can apply on behalf of the tenants, but they would need all the tenants’ information.

“We’re not seeing too many landlords apply,” Ruiz said.

If landlords refuse to participate, the money can go directly to the tenant to pay rent. Landlords cannot seek eviction while assistance is being provided.

For more information, call Pike County Human Services at 570-296-3434 or email humanservice@pikepa.org. Apply online at PikeRentHelp.com.

Rental assistance yearly income limits
1 person — $44,350
2 people — $50,650
3 people — $57,000
4 people — $63,300
5 people — $68,400
6 people — $73,450
7 people — $78,500
8 people — $83,600