HARRISBURG, PA — After six weeks of administering CARES financial assistance for renters and homeowners, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency is providing an update on the progress of both programs, which have been accepting applications since July 6.
As of Aug. 14, the CARES Rent Relief Program (RRP) has received 14,074 applications from renters who are using receipt of unemployment compensation as their method to qualify for assistance. PHFA is providing a county-by-county breakdown of these numbers.
The processing of these applications is being managed by organizations in all 67 counties, and the data being provided today comes from these groups.
A map is also provided by PHFA showing the distribution of these renters’ applications statewide. (Renters can also use a 30% drop in income to qualify for assistance.)
For the CARES RRP, the counties were asked to provide data they have collected from July 6 through July 31. A summary of key points taken from that data provides these insights:
Applications from Renters…………………………9,988
Applications from Landlords……………………..5,761
CARES RRP Assistance Requested.……………$37.7M
CARES RRP Assistance Disbursed.………………$465,442
The Pandemic Mortgage Assistance Program (PMAP) has received 1,619 applications, and PHFA is providing a county-by-county breakdown of that data. (The total for the counties’ data does not match the official total of 1,619 because some mailed applications are not yet in the database.)
Of these total applications, 1,245 were completed online and 374 were completed on paper and mailed to the agency. PHFA is overseeing the processing of all the homeowner applications.
“Considering the parameters of these two projects as established by the state’s CARES legislation, I think the number of applications we have received so far is what we would expect,” said PHFA Executive Director and CEO Robin Wiessmann.
“Our main concern is the large number of incomplete applications the counties and PHFA are receiving, and we are already taking steps to address that.
“During the last two weeks, we’ve made a number of changes where we can. For instance, we’ve added application checklists to both programs’ websites and, on the renters’ site, we posted a four-minute informational video with tips for submitting complete applications.
“We’re hopeful these steps, and others, will help, and we will continue to work with the counties to identify ways to make the process operate more smoothly.
“Another challenge we’ve noticed is that some people don’t have easy access to a computer or printer. We’ve helped those callers by mailing them applications and, in some cases, we’ve mailed multiple applications for landlords and renters to share with others in their building.
“As of August 11, we’ve responded by mail to 839 requests for applications, and 759 of those were from renters. Unfortunately, we think some of the factors holding back participation in both relief programs are requirements built into the legislation.
“For instance, the $750 limit on monthly rent relief is, we believe, keeping many landlords from participating. The September deadline for applying should be extended, too, to help more people submit applications. These and other topics are items we hope can be addressed in amendments to the state’s CARES Act.
“On a positive note, phone conferences between PHFA and our partner county organizations are bearing fruit. These weekly discussions are helping provide the counties with useful information and support, and PHFA is gaining valuable feedback for us to make improvements on our end.”
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