Philadelphia has launched a new financial assistance program to help resolve landlord-tenant disputes over back rent before they become the basis of an eviction filing.
The initiative will directly support landlords and tenants participating in the city’s free and mandatory Eviction Diversion Program. Under the new program, landlords can receive a one-time payment to cover a tenant’s total rent arrears plus one month’s rent.
The max payout for back rent is $3,000, the city said.
The city has allocated a total of $30 million for the effort, which officials have dubbed Targeted Financial Assistance (TFA).
It comes after a separate rental assistance program ran out of federal and state dollars — and as tenants facing eviction are finding themselves deeper in debt than they were prior to the pandemic.
Osarugue Grace Osa-Edoh, a housing attorney with Community Legal Services, said the program is positive news for tenants still recovering from the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many tenants are still in a place of crisis,” said Osa-Edoh. “So if this funding is going to help push people into even just a little bit of a better place, then that’s something that I do support.”
To receive rental assistance, landlords and tenants must have both made “reasonable efforts” to complete the eviction diversion program, which is designed to resolve disputes outside of court. The program often involves both sides participating in at least one mediation session with a neutral party.
Since 2020, more than 4,000 landlord-tenant pairs have participated in various versions of the diversion program. Nearly 75% of them have reached an agreement that kept tenants in their homes, according to the city.