If we’ve “turned the corner” in the COVID-19 pandemic, as has been asserted, then we need to replace the GPS because we’re headed on a dreadful road scarred with horrific items like 23,000 to 47,000 Montgomery County households at “serious risk” of homelessness due to the crisis.

“Keeping people in their homes and preventing an influx of homelessness is critical to the health and safety of Montgomery County households,” said Dr. Valarie A. Arkoosh, chair, Montgomery County Commissioners. “It is also a major contributing factor in the recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.”

A $5.9 million program – ‘Your Way Home Rent & Utility Coalition’ – offers $1,500 a month for up to six months to eligible renters hit by the pandemic. The effort kicked off Sept. 8 and hopes to help at least 660 county households facing eviction because of an inability to pay rent due to a financial crisis and unemployment.

This is no small problem. It’s estimated 29 to 43 percent of Montgomery County’s 96,664 renter households are at severe risk of eviction by the end of the year due to impacts of the pandemic. The program began after the Aug. 31 expiration of Gov. Tom Wolf’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. He has asked the state General Assembly to extend the moratorium.

The goal of the program is to distribute $5.9 million in rental and utility relief to county households on the edge of homelessness without financial assistance. In order to qualify, households must reside in Montgomery County at the time of application; be at or below 100 percent of area median income at the time of application; have rent arrears and/or an eviction notice, and have utility arrears and/or a utility shut-off notice.

For more information, visit yourwayhome.org.

Meantime, Bucks County residents might find protection from eviction due to pandemic impacts under a new federal law. The Centers for Disease Control recently ordered a nationwide rule to prevent evictions for non-payment of rent until 2021.

Renters must be unable to pay full rent due to loss of household income, make less than $99,000 a year, have made efforts to receive government rent assistance, and have made efforts to make partial rent payment as close to the full amount as possible.

For more information, contact Bucks County Housing Link at 1-800-810-4434.

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