Allegheny County says in order to qualify, you must prove that you lost income or a job since March 13 of last year OR you have COVID-19 related increases in expenses such as medical bills or are taking care of someone in your home.By Amy Wadas

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A year into the pandemic, and it’s not getting any easier for some.

Allegheny County is offering rent and utility assistance to people who qualify, and the application process kicked off Monday.

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“It’s been hard paying rent. No money since April of last year,” said one woman applying for assistance.

That is the story for a lot of people. The woman, who did not want to be identified, works in-home health care and says jobs are hard to come by.

“Most of the time, family is taking care of them. They don’t want strangers coming in. So you can’t go in anyone’s house, so you’re stuck without work,” she said. “Prior to the pandemic, work was great. Just not the same now.”

She’s hoping the rent and utility assistance program launched by Allegheny County will be a lifesaver.

“I’m not homeless because I’m very afraid of being homeless,” she said.

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Applicants are eligible if they have been financially impacted by the pandemic and can prove they lost income and employment. People who have also taken on coronavirus-related increases in expenses, like medical bills or taking care of someone in their home, qualify.

You can fill out an application online here. You can also visit one of the seven drop-in centers.

You’ll also need to come prepared.

“If you have all the proper documents, pay stub, W2, any proof of hardships or an eviction notice,” said Director of Operations and Technology at the Kingsley Association Alexander Payton.

Once you submit your application, the staff at Kingsley said it takes about three weeks to process. Then you will receive your payment.

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You can also apply by calling Action-Housing at 412-248-0021.