On Wednesday, April 13, Delaware County was honored to receive the prestigious Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence, in recognition of the County’s successful Emergency Rental Assistance (Delco ERA) Program. The award, presented to Delaware County at the Local Government Day Awards Ceremony held at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in downtown Harrisburg, is given annually to a select group of exemplary local officials for their successes in undertaking innovative initiatives to improve the quality of life in their communities.William F. Martin, the Delaware County Solicitor and a key contributor to the implementation of the Delco ERA program, traveled to Harrisburg to receive the award on behalf of the County and took the opportunity to praise the significant contributions of numerous government departments, community partner organization, as well as Capital Access Inc., a local grants management firm that was selected by the County to help design and administer the program in early 2021.
“Delaware County is proud to accept the Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence, and this program is a wonderful illustration of how government can effectively and efficiently serve our community,” said Mr. Martin. “Delaware County Council, the Delaware County Department of Human Services under the guidance of Sandy Garrison, Deputy County Solicitor Jon Lichtenstein, Capital Access under the direction of Jeremey Newberg, numerous staff members from many other State and County agencies, as well as our many community partners—including the Multicultural Community Family Services, the Delaware County Foundation, the Chester Housing Authority and Chester City Hall—have all played a significant role in making the Delco ERA program a success, and we’re incredibly appreciative of the opportunity to serve the residents of Delaware County.”
The ERA Program, first created by Congress through the Consolidated Appropriations Act enacted in 2020 and then expanded under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, established a mechanism by which states and local governments could provide financial assistance to households in danger of eviction, the loss of utilities, and homelessness as a result of financial disruption and loss of income during or due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The speed and efficiency by which the grants were processed relative to other counties, the safeguards put in place to prevent fraudulent applications, and the extent of community outreach and efforts to work with residents in-person and on a case-by-case basis were all contributing factors that led to Delaware County being selected to receive the Governor’s Award and recognized as one of the top performing programs in the country.
To-date, Delco ERA has approved over 8,900 grants, totaling over $55.6M, for Delaware County tenants—including $47.4M for rent assistance and nearly $7.4M for utilities. By the completion of the program later this year, it is expected that over $67M will be distributed, with an average grant totaling over $6,000.
“The magic of Delco ERA is that Delaware County leadership, community partners, renters, landlords, and Capital Access have all embraced the values of shared investment and shared success. Delco ERA presented an opportunity to go bigger and deeper in terms of community impact and scale for service delivery to help Delco neighbors recover with dignity,” added Jeremey Newberg, CEO of Capital Access and Program Manager for Delco ERA, who was also in attendance at the awards ceremony.
In addition to processing applications, Delco ERA has convened nearly 100 1:1 in-person application intake sessions, helping over 3,100 applicants and landlords bridge the digital divide and navigate the fair but stringent process designed to ensure only qualified applicants receive assistance. The Delco ERA program team also worked closely with the Eviction Courts and Legal Aid organizations to help hundreds of tenants catch up on past due rent and avoid eviction and the risk of homelessness.
Delaware County renters experiencing housing instability should register on the Delco ERA website at www.delco-era.com while funds remain available. Individuals wanting additional information can also contact Delco ERA by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (484) 729-4200.