The Bucks County Department of Housing and Community Development recently announced the launch of a new resource for renters who have fallen behind on rent or utilities because of COVID-19.
Funded with more than $37 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Bucks County Emergency Rental Assistance program is helping eligible tenants who reside within the county to pay rent and utility bills.
“Whether it’s job loss, medical bills or caring for ill loved ones, there are many ways this pandemic has upended life for Bucks County residents,” said Jeffrey Fields, director of Housing and Community Development. “The BERA program’s goal is to stop evictions and displacement of renters, while helping landlords get the funds needed to pay their mortgages and maintain their properties.”
BERA is a partnership between Bucks County and its Housing Link partners, including the Bucks County Opportunity Council, Bucks County Housing Group, the YWCA of Bucks County and Legal Aid of Southeastern PA.
Bucks tenants who have lost income or experienced other financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 can apply for rent/utilities assistance at buckscounty.org/renthelp.
Renters can apply for assistance in paying rental arrears, as well as for upcoming rent if they are still unable to pay. Landlords are also encouraged to apply by submitting tenant information, a valid W-9, and ledgers outlining arrears owed. However, a landlord application cannot be completed without the tenant’s participation in establishing tenant eligibility. Landlords will be contacted to confirm approved payment amounts prior to payment being issued.
Landlords and tenants with questions about eligibility or the application process can call the BERA helpline between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, at 888-50-BUCKS.
Since its soft launch earlier in the month, the program has already received hundreds of applications and expects many more, so patience is encouraged while applications are processed and reviewed. Once an application is submitted, someone from the BERA helpline or one of the Housing Link partners will reach out to review your case. Alternative languages and application formats are also available as needed.
A moratorium on evictions is in effect through March 31 for qualifying tenants who present this completed declaration form to their landlords.
Any changes to the moratorium date will be updated at buckscounty.org/renthelp