Pa. emergency program hopes to help thousands of renters to afford utilities

Written by on May 4, 2021

Pa. emergency program hopes to help thousands of renters to afford utilities

By Hayden Mitman

May 4, 2021

Image by Sephelonor from Pixabay

A program that helped low-income Pennsylvanians afford utilities came to an end last week. 

Listen to the story.

Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians relied on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. 

But with the ongoing pandemic still raging, the state is setting aside $847 million in emergency assistance for those who still need the help.

More than 300,000 families throughout the state relied on LIHEAP to pay their utilities. 

Meg Snead, the acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, says this funding will help renters stay in their homes. 

“If we allow the instability of the last 14 months to jeopardize housing for people in difficult financial circumstances this could have catastrophic effects on the health and well-being of individuals and communities across Pennsylvania,” Snead says. 

This program, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) expands LIHEAP by helping renters afford electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash and other utilities. 

“This program is an investment in our long-term economic recovery and the health and well-being of our communities,” Snead says.

According to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, nearly 1 million Pennsylvanians have past due utility bills.

In April, utility companies resumed shutoffs for late payment after a year-long moratorium on the practice. 

Locally, PPL has reported that nearly 127,000 residential customers owe more than $166 million in late payments and are at risk of losing service. 

Those in need of rental assistance can apply now through September, or until the funds run out. Information on how to apply is at Compass.State.Pa.US.

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