$12 million more for Philly pandemic rental assistance program

City officials expect the additional money to be used up quickly, and help roughly 2,600 households.

The Philadelphia skyline is pictured in a file photo.

The Philadelphia skyline is pictured in a file photo. (Mark Henninger for Billy Penn)

Philadelphia is slated to receive $11.8 million in additional funding for its touted Emergency Rental Assistance Program, an initiative launched more than two years ago to help renters and landlords financially burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services will soon send $6.9 million to the city as part of a larger reallocation, the second of its kind this year. A total of eight counties, including Montgomery and Delaware, will receive more than $19 million for rental assistance.

In the coming weeks, the U.S. Department of Treasury will be sending the city $4.9 million for the initiative.

All of this new funding must be obligated by the end of September.

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“There’s quite a quick turnaround for those funds,” said Rachel Mulbry, housing programs manager for the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, the nonprofit managing the city’s ERAP.

This is the first tranche of new program funding for Philadelphia in roughly four months. 

The city doesn’t expect the money to last long — likely less than two weeks in total. The funding is expected to help more than 2,600 households, according to an online dashboard for the program.

To date, the city has approved nearly 27,000 applications during Phase 4 of the program, according to the dashboard. Another 16,000 applications have yet to be reviewed.

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Since launching in May of 2020, the initiative has disbursed more than $272 million to more than 42,000 households.

The funding has been a key part of the city’s emergency eviction diversion program, a pandemic-inspired alternative to landlord-tenant court credited with keeping thousands of residents in their homes while dramatically reducing the number of eviction proceedings in the city.

Under the budget agreement finalized this June, the eviction program is set to receive $15 million for rental assistance, but it’s unclear how that funding will be disbursed.

The money is separate from funding the ERAP distributes.

“We are still formulating the details and should be making an announcement by late summer, early fall,” said PHDC spokesperson Jamila Davis.

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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