Delaware County Launches Emergency Rental Assistance Program’s $30 Million Phase 2
100% of Phase 1 funding ($37.2 million) fully allocated to low-income Delaware County applicants
Following a highly successful first round of the Delaware County Emergency Rental Assistance Program, the County has seamlessly launched a second round of funding to help low-income tenants with rent and utility assistance as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic economic crisis.
In April 2021, the Delaware County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (DELCO ERA) was launched as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, with a mandate to help low-income Delaware County residents stay in their rental homes. Delaware County was provided initial funding of $37.2 million for the program, one of thousands of similar county-based rental assistance programs designed to speed up the nation’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing recession.
Within just six months, Delaware County Council is proud to announce that DELCO ERA has fully allocated 100% of the initial $37.2 million of Emergency Rental Assistance to county residents—helping 5,151 low-income renters stay in their homes. Over $29 million in rental assistance and nearly $5 million in utility assistance were provided. By comparison, the national average for ERA expenditure is just 40% as of October 2021.
“We are incredibly proud we reached 100% expenditure in just six short months and were able to help over 5,000 residents with rent and utility bills at a time when they needed it the most,” said Delaware County Council Chairman Brian Zidek. “We are grateful to our many community partners who helped us spread the message that the DELCO ERA program is available to provide critical rent and utility assistance—we achieved this success as a shared community effort.”
Of the 5,151 residents served with ERA 1 funds, 89% earn less than 50% of the area median income, which is $47,250 for a family of four. The program helped 689 households in active eviction proceedings stay in their homes. Over 57% of the funds were distributed to renters living in Chester, Upper Darby, Darby, and Lansdowne.
“My experience with the program went really smoothly and quickly and my case worker was very helpful. They were there for me at a time when I really needed it,” said Tashana Murrel, a Delco ERA recipient. “It was a really good and easy experience and I even told some other people about it who were also going through hard times. It was just such a great experience and I’m so thankful.
”Due to the successful allocation of funding of what is now termed “ERA 1,” Delaware County is being provided with an additional $30.3 million in new American Rescue Plan Act Funding (ARPA) by the U.S. Treasury and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The new funding, termed “ERA 2,” will help DELCO ERA continue to serve tenants and landlords who are still in need as we continue to weather the COVID pandemic and its effect on our health and economy.
The DelCo ERA program has received over 13,000 applications for assistance from first-time applicants. On December 15, 2021, DELCO ERA will open applications for subsequent assistance for tenants who received assistance earlier but still face housing instability. Demand for rent and utility assistance persists. DELCO ERA receives an average of 50 new applications per day.
Residents who have fallen behind on rent and/or utilities during the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to apply for assistance by registering at www.delco-era.com or scheduling an In-Person Intake Appointment at one of our weekly events. Customer Service Specialist with Capital Access, Inc., Program Manager for DELCO ERA, are available to assist tenants and their landlords with the application process. People with language and/or physical challenges can request assistance with application submission.
Residents can contact the DELCO ERA program for assistance by phone at (484) 729-4200 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
DELCO ERA will continue to offer in-person application intake services in Upper Darby and the City of Chester to assist residents who don’t have internet service or who need additional assistance.
During the process for ERA-1, over 2,200 renters and landlords received in-person application intake services, which greatly reduced delays and ensured that residents were able to sign grant agreements in person.
How the DELCO ERA program works:
DELCO ERA will pay for past due rent and utilities, and up to three months of future eligible rent/utility expenses, totaling up to 18 months of assistance for qualifying applicants. Past due rent can go as far back as April 1, 2020. DELCO ERA does not pay late fees or penalties.
Grant funds are paid directly to the landlord/property manager and the utility company. If a landlord is unresponsive, payments can be made directly to eligible tenants.
Funds will be distributed on a “first-come, first qualified and approved” basis until program funds are depleted.
Applicants must provide evidence of disruption and/or loss during or due to the COVID pandemic such as:
Qualified for unemployment benefits during the pandemic or can attest in writing that they, or a member of their household, has experienced a reduction of income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the pandemic; and
Can demonstrate a risk of housing instability and/or homelessness such as a past due utility, past due rent notice, or eviction notice or can attest in writing to the same.
Household income may be no more than 80% of the area median income (AMI) for their household size.
Applicants get the highest priority for processing if the total household income is less than 50% AMI and/or at least one person qualified for unemployment benefits for at least the 90 days prior to the date of their registration for DELCO ERA and/or currently undergoing eviction proceedings and have a Delaware County court docket number.