HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller reminded Pennsylvanians on Friday that help is available and encouraged for anyone affected financially by the COVID-19 public-health crisis.
People who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of losing their housing can take advantage of available rent and mortgage assistance programs.
The COVID-19 emergency and economic insecurity have caused many people to lose income or employment altogether and those individuals may now be struggling to make their monthly rent or mortgage payments. Anyone who is worried about losing their housing should know that assistance is available and should not hesitate to reach out for help.
Access to safe and secure housing is essential, especially now. We want to be sure that any Pennsylvanian who is struggling to pay rent or utilities has the help that they need and knows that they are not alone during this time.Teresa Miller, DHS Secretary
A U.S. Census Bureau survey found that since mid-April, the percentage of Pennsylvania adults who consider themselves housing insecure has risen by 2.4 percent.
The most recent survey, which defines housing insecurity as missing last month’s rent or mortgage payment or having slight or no confidence that a household can pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time, found that nearly 24 percent of Pennsylvanians, or 1.6 million people, are living with housing insecurity.
The DHS has released $10 million in CARES Act funding to counties’ Homeless Assistance Programs (HAP) to aid in serving the increased needs of Pennsylvania citizens at risk of homelessness. HAP helps to ensure that homelessness can be avoided by offering rental assistance, emergency shelter, supportive housing services, and case management services to individuals and families.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, HAP provided these services to more than 28,000 individuals and families experiencing or at risk for homelessness. Questions on eligibility and requests for help can be made by contacting a county HAP here.
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) is also offering housing-related financial assistance. Applications are available at www.PHFA.org for both rental and mortgage assistance.
For more information on public assistance programs available through DHS, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.