According to the Census Household Survey, nearly half a million renter households in Pennsylvania did not pay their rent last month. Yet, a $150 million CARES Rent Relief Program intended to protect renters affected by COVID-related income loss remains largely untapped. The program is set to expire in days, leaving landlords unable to pay bills and thousands of our neighbors at risk of eviction when a federal moratorium ends in December.

"Covid-19 has put the health, and economic stability of low-income households most at risk across Pennsylvania," said Julia Menzo, Director of Community Outreach for Liberty Lutheran/Lutheran Congregational Services and Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) program coordinator for Eastern Pennsylvania.

"Our baptismal promises call us to seek justice for all in the name of Jesus," Menzo said. "Despite federal action from the Centers for Disease Control creating an eviction moratorium until December 31, 2020, the language in the moratorium is unclear as to who exactly qualifies, and many will not qualify."
"Here at Lutheran Disaster Response, Eastern PA, we know that many seeking assistance under the program currently ending did not qualify because landlords were required to co-apply with tenants, and in many cases, there were disincentives to landlords to participate. Legislative action is one critical way we can work as the church to combat injustice. This newly introduced legislation will allow more to qualify for assistance as together we work to build a stronger community safety net."

* The National Low Income Housing Coalition, with which ELCA Advocacy is a partner, is seeking input and engagement from low-income renters. Please complete this 5-minute confidential survey if you:
  • Are a subsidized renter living in housing where your rent is supported;
  • Are a low-income renter who is looking for housing assistance but currently receiving none;
  • Are experiencing homelessness;
  • Have any of these experiences in your past, as your perspectives will also be invaluable.
The survey closes on October 22. Feel free to share with neighbors and affected renters in your community. Your responses to expand meaningful tenant engagement to better assist low-income leaders in their advocacy across the country.