NORRISTOWN, PA – As the Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread, and with the most recent federal eviction moratorium rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, Montgomery County is taking important steps to protect renters that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, garnering attention from several national groups.
In an effort to prevent as many evictions as possible amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Thomas M. DelRicci has issued an administrative order applicable to all Magisterial District Courts. The administrative order, which went into effect September 3, directs magisterial district court judges to issue a 30-day continuance for households facing eviction proceedings to provide time for them and their landlords to receive rental and utility assistance.
“We thank the Courts for their quick work to intercede and protect vulnerable rental households in Montco,” said Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “Our message to families is that help is available, and we urge them to apply for rent and utility assistance if they have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.”
All renter households in Montgomery County that are having trouble paying their rent or utility bills are encouraged to call 2-1-1, text their zip code to 898-211, or visit montcorelief.org for instructions on how to apply for help.
The county and its six community-based nonprofit partners, through the Your Way Home public-private partnership, have delivered $25,608,503.15 in emergency rent and utility assistance to 3,957 households have been served, consisting of 9,496 people, their landlords, and utility companies to date. Approximately two-thirds of the recipient renters have household incomes of 30% Area Median Income or below.
The county has garnered national attention due to the design and implementation of its emergency rental assistance initiative. The Treasury Department lists Montgomery County as an example of a community showing “promising practices” in the area of “partnerships in program implementation.” The National Low Income Housing Coalition cites Montgomery County’s application as one among several examples of “how programs can achieve clear and streamlined applications.” In August, County staff presented at a national event hosted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness focused on homelessness diversion and emergency rental assistance.
Montgomery County has been allocated $86,850,319.90 in rent and utility relief funding, a combination of allocations from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The county anticipates additional funds are forthcoming.
Certain households applying for rental and utility assistance are being prioritized. This includes households whose income does not exceed 50% of Area Median Income and households with at least one individual who has been unemployed for 90 days prior to applications, as mandated by the federal government.
In an effort to lead with equity and to assist those that are most vulnerable, Montgomery County has implemented additional prioritization for certain households: those that are facing eviction and those that reside in the zip codes of 19401, 19405, 19406, 19464, 19446, and 19027. The zip codes were taken from a mapping tool developed by the Urban Institute that shows where low-income renters face greater risks of housing instability and homelessness.
The six community-based nonprofit partners working with the County to deliver emergency rent and utility assistance are: ACLAMO, CADCOM, Family Services of Montgomery County, Manna on Main Street, Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities, and YWCA Tri-County Area.
If you or someone you know is at risk of being evicted, resources are available (servicios para evitar el desahucio). Prothonotary Noah Marlier’s office, located in the Norristown Courthouse, is where tenants and landlords can file landlord-tenant appeals (apelar el desahucio) from Magisterial District Court. Tenants can access the appeal form here. The Prothonotary’s Office is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. However, renters applying for financial assistance are encouraged to arrive at the Courthouse no later than 1 p.m. to file their appeal. For more information, visit their website or call (610) 278-3361.
Montgomery County has engaged in a targeted marketing campaign to reach vulnerable renter households and broaden the awareness of rent and utility funding available. The campaign includes the launch of a custom URL – www.montcorelief.org – and grassroots outreach efforts to apartment complexes and community organizations. It also includes out-of-home ad placements at bus shelters, local billboard displays, and digital display ads. To download campaign visuals, click here.