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Learn more about ERAP, who qualifies, and how to receive support:
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) was created to help renters dealing with financial challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For eligible households, the program offers rental and utility assistance to help Pennsylvanians avoid eviction or loss of utility service, including assistance with other housing expenses and the provision of housing stability services.
ERAP was established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021, commonly referred to as ERAP1. Governor Wolf signed Act 1 of 2021 into law on February 5, 2021, allowing the Department of Human Services (DHS) to implement and administer ERAP in accordance with federal law. ERAP was expanded through the American Rescue Plan Act, Pub L. No. 117-2 (March 11, 2021). Governor Wolf signed Act 24 of 2021 into law on June 30, 2021, allowing PA DHS to implement and administer the expanded program, commonly referred to as ERAP2, in accordance with federal law.
ERAP helps tenant households with paying rent including mobile home lot rent, past-due rent balances (also known as arrears), utility and home energy costs, utility and home energy cost arrears, and other expenses related to housing, such as, but not limited to, relocation expenses, rental fees, reasonable late fees, internet services for work, home schooling, telemedicine, etc. ERAP also provides funds for the provision of housing stability services.
Pennsylvanians can apply for themselves as tenants, or a landlord can apply on behalf of current tenant(s).
A household must be responsible to pay rent on a residential property, and:
- One or more people within the household have qualified for unemployment benefits, had a decrease in income, had increased household costs, or experienced other financial hardship due to, directly or indirectly, the COVID-19 pandemic (ERAP1). For ERAP2 funds, costs may also be incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic;
- One or more individuals in the household can show a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; AND
- The household has an income at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) as established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
ERAP requires a prioritization of assistance for households with:
- Incomes less than 50 percent AMI; or
- One or more individuals that have not been employed for the 90-day period preceding the date of application.
County ERAP offices should establish a preference system for priority populations.
Income limits vary by county. The household’s annual income must be equal to or less than 80 percent of the AMI for their county. You can find the income limits for your county by visiting the DHS ERAP website under Income Requirements.
HUD recently released the 2022 AMI limits and DHS issued Procedural Memo #008-22 providing guidance on when to use the different year’s AMI limits.
Resources (such as bank accounts and cars) are not evaluated for ERAP.
Counties participating in ERAP began offering assistance in mid-March 2021.
Applications for most counties can be submitted online at www.COMPASS.state.pa.us. However, not all counties are using the COMPASS system and are using their own application intake system.
Tenants and landlords can locate county ERAP offices and methods for applying in that county on the DHS ERAP website. Online COMPASS applications are available in English or Spanish. Applicants can download and print applications in seven languages from the PA DHS ERAP website. Applicants can get applications from their county’s ERAP office.
County ERAP offices should be flexible in the different application formats they accept and accommodating to the technical capabilities of their communities.
Information you will need:
- Personal identification information for the head of household. This could include a driver's license, state-issued ID card, passport, etc.
- Income information for all household members over the age of 18.
- Your lease and something to show the amount of rent you owe.
- Your landlord's name and contact information.
- Utility expenses like electric, water, oil, natural gas, etc.
- Utility provider information.
Documents you may need to provide:
- Personal identification such as a driver's license, state-issued ID card, passport, etc.
- Unemployment determination letter or proof of a decrease in household income during COVID-19 (paystubs or a letter from your employer).
- Proof of income for all household members over age 18.
- Paystubs, W-2s, other wage statements, tax filings, direct deposit records, or attestation from an employer.
- Documentation of unearned income such as unemployment benefits, social security benefits, retirement benefits, child/spousal support, etc.
- Document(s) showing rent and/or rental arrears due.
- Document(s) showing utility and/or utility arrears due.
- Document(s) showing other housing-related expenses experienced during COVID-19.
Note: If you do not have official documents, you may provide signed letters from an employer, landlord, or utility company, etc. instead. The county ERAP office will work with you to get necessary documents or written attestations as needed.
These documents may be submitted to your local ERAP provider as:
- Digital photographs of documents
- Emails or letters from employers, landlords, or others with knowledge of your household's circumstances.
ERAP assistance is paid directly to the landlord or utility provider. If a landlord or utility provider does not want to participate in ERAP, a direct payment may be made to the tenant. A payment received by a tenant must be forwarded to the landlord or utility provider to reduce the tenant’s obligation. In ERAP2, counties are required to make payments directly to tenants when landlords choose not to participate.
Yes. A tenant that lives in a federally subsidized residential or mixed-use property (e.g., a Housing Choice Voucher, Public Housing, or Project-Based Rental Assistance) may be eligible to receive ERAP assistance as long as ERAP funds are not applied to costs that have been or will be reimbursed under any other federal assistance. This would include Section 8 housing and recipients of the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant funds for rental assistance.
The ERAP assistance may only be applied to the tenant-owed portion of rent or utilities.
Yes. ERAP funds can be used to pay for arrearages in a previous apartment. To remove barriers a household may face in accessing new housing, county ERAP offices may, at the tenant’s request, provide assistance for rental or utility arrears after an otherwise eligible tenant has vacated a unit. County ERAP offices must follow their policies and procedures to substantiate covering rent arrears in cases where the tenant is no longer in the unit.