The latest COVID-19 relief bill was signed into law on December 27, 2020.
It is a $900 billion pandemic-relief package that includes $25 in emergency rental assistance and extends the federal eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also updated the tenant self-declaration form.
Pennsylvania is estimated to received $852,182,000 to assist tenants and landlords financially impacted by COVID-19. Much of the money could be distributed directly through local municipalities, including Philadelphia. However, there is concern that too many municipalities are too small to run the program efficiently.
The major issue with last year’s rent relief bill was the unreasonably low maximum monthly rental amount. During the last legislative session, Rep. Sue Helm (HB 2868) attempted to make fixes, but the program did not pass. A house committee is currently reviewing the bill’s language, including setting a rental cap. The language reads:
“(9) The agency shall make payments as follows: (i) For rental assistance, an amount equal to 100% of the lessee’s monthly rent, not to exceed [$750 per month,] 130% of the fiscal year 2020 fair market rent for a two-bedroom unit in the local area for Pennsylvania as determined by the United States Department Housing and Urban Development, for each month for which assistance is sought for a maximum of six months.”