By: Briana Smith and Chris Hoffman
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A day that hundreds if not thousands of people have dreaded has arrived as the current moratorium on evictions in Allegheny County has expired. However, there is an effort underway to extend the moratorium.
With the eviction moratorium having ended in Allegheny County, nearly 1,000 people could risk losing their homes. Housing advocates have been calling for the moratorium to be extended.
Right now, there are more than 900 eviction proceedings set to take place in November, with half of those scheduled for the first week of the month.
Some advocates gathered earlier this week to plead their case to President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark, who has reportedly asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to extend the moratorium. According to NPR, Judge Clark cited the “high” COVID-19 case count throughout the county.
Watch as KDKA’s Briana Smith reports:
With housing being an issue going into the next Pittsburgh Mayor’s administration, both candidates offered their thoughts during a debate earlier this month.
“We can’t just push people out. We’re losing people in our legacy neighborhoods. They’re running people out of Homewood, they’re running people out of Beltzhoover, they’re running people out of the North Side,” said Republican Tony Moreno.
“We don’t want to create more trauma. We want to reduce trauma, and the way that you reduce trauma is through a public health lens that says we extend the moratorium and ensure that we are laser-focused on building more affordable housing,” Democrat Rep. Ed Gainey said.
There are still resources to help, including the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Action Housing is leading the program, and they say phones are ringing off the hook.
“We are paying out at least 100 applications a day or more,” said Natalie Ryan, the Action Housing housing assistance program manager.
Ryan’s best advice is to submit an application online.
“That’s where they can apply for emergency rental assistance,” said Ryan. “They need to have documentation of their income, a late rent notice, eviction notice or late utility bill, [and] copy of their lease if possible.”
Ryan says landlords can initiate the process too.
“We’ve given out over $50 million at this point in rent and utility assistance. There’s $80 million total, so it’s a big accomplishment that we’ve been able to disperse that much money,” said Ryan.
Ryan says they’ve stabilized about 7,600 households, and that number continues to grow.
“There are 18,000 applications that have been started. I think 11,000 have been submitted,” said Ryan. “So we’re also encouraging people to check their applications and make sure once they started the application, they’ve gone the whole way through to submit.”
Watch as KDKA’s Briana Smith reports:
Ryan is reminding everyone to submit quickly and don’t worry.
“We have shown through this process since March, we’ve been able to distribute $50 million,” said Ryan. “So the process does work, it just takes time because of the volume. We will get there.”
Ryan says they’re working directly with the courts, so if judges see someone applied for assistance, they’ll give them extra time to receive a payment.
The county’s president judge also asked the state Supreme Court to extend the moratorium after housing advocates plead their case that renters need more time.
If you need help, here are some resources in the area:
Allegheny County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) – for people experiencing job loss or loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis
Action Housing: 412-248-0021 or click here.
Allegheny County Homelessness Assistance Programs – for people who are experiencing homelessness or about to experience homelessness
Allegheny Link: 866-730-2368
URA Housing Stabilization Programs – for Pittsburgh residents only
PA 211 Southwest
Text your ZIP Code to 898-211, dial 211 from your phone or by chatroom here.
If you need help figuring out which program is best for you: click here or call 412-534-6600 for English or 412-530-5244 for Español.