The Pennsylvania Supreme Court quickly approved a recent Bucks County court order designed to give struggling residents more time to get help paying rent before facing eviction.
The order, originally signed July 22 by Bucks County President Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr., was re-drafted and signed by Bateman this week with a few modifications.
Bateman’s new order was entered after the Supreme Court issued a per curiam order authorizing the judge to establish and operate the Court Action to Reduce Evictions program.
The order grants a mandatory 30-day continuance of eviction cases in which a tenant has applied for aid through the Bucks Emergency Rental Assistance program or similar programs.
The original order was rescinded on Thursday and submitted to the high court for review after a procedural objection to the program was raised.
The re-drafted order contains two significant changes from the original. The order is now scheduled to expire on Oct. 31, rather than the Dec. 31 date of the first one. It also permits magisterial district judges to end continuances for cases in which a BERA application has been denied, withdrawn or otherwise terminated short of approval.
Funded with millions in federal COVID-relief dollars, BERA was launched by the county earlier this year in partnership with Bucks County Housing Link. Since March 1, the program has paid out $7.78 million and provided assistance to 858 households.
The affirmation of Bateman’s order came two days after the latest extension of a CDC moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent expired on Saturday. The order allows people unable to pay rent because they have lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic to remain in their homes if they have applied for BERA aid.
Those who need help paying rent or utilities but who are not yet facing eviction may also qualify for aid through BERA. Applications are typically assigned to a caseworker for review within two business days.
Learn more at buckscounty.gov/renthelp or by calling 1-888-50-BUCKS.