PITTSBURGH, PA (February 2, 2021) A proposal to establish an Emergency Rental Assistance Program to assist those impacted financially from the COVID-19 crisis was introduced to Pittsburgh City Council today.
The City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are partnering with Action Housing and Dollar Energy to establish the emergency program using federal funds in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was signed into law on December 27. The County received $27 million and the City $8.9 million in U.S. Treasury grants under the Act, for assisting households having trouble paying rent and utilities due to the pandemic.
“In 2020, we were able to help many in our community, but also know that despite our efforts, massive need still exists,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “This partnership with the City of Pittsburgh and ACTION will allow us to meet this challenge with a larger pool of funds to help those in need.”
Allegheny County successfully partnered with ACTION Housing in 2020 to provide over $14 million in rental relief to 3,600 households in the county. The existing partnership and infrastructure along with learned lessons from the first program will lead to a smoother, more expedient process for applicants.
The City and County are working quickly to establish the local rental assistance program, since under the federal law at least 65% of the grant funds must be expended by September 30 of this year. The Peduto Administration is introducing the City’s grant funding to City Council today and asking for an expedited Council vote by next week.
“People all around the Pittsburgh region continue to be hurt by COVID-19 in ways that go far beyond the health catastrophe of the pandemic, as they are stuck at home contending with employment uncertainty, educational worries and emotional distress. But if that home itself is in danger, people could lose all hope,” Mayor William Peduto said.
Under federal regulations grant funding can be used for rent, rental arrears, utilities, utility arrears, and other housing expenses resulting from the pandemic for households meeting certain income criteria. The assistance can last up to 12 months plus an additional three months, if necessary, to ensure housing stability.
Although more details are forthcoming from the federal government that are needed to launch the program, prospective applicants can express interest and sign up to receive program updates at https://covidrentrelief.alleghenycounty.us/. Additional details about the federal grants are available here.
Amie M. Downs
Director of Communications
County of Allegheny
City of Pittsburgh