Honor Fair Housing Month by fighting to keep people safe in their homes!
April is National Fair Housing Month, recognizing the signing of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 that banned discrimination against homebuyers and renters due to race, religion and other prejudices. Yet, 54 years after its enactment, many across our country and commonwealth still face housing injustices and inequalities, specifically in our communities of color. These have been amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid rising costs and unemployment struggles, people have fought to keep a roof over their heads. Reports show that nearly one out of every eight homeowners in the Philadelphia region were behind on their mortgage last year and more than 11 million nationwide had overdue rent.
Quality, affordable housing is a human right that should never be based on Zip code but provided to all Pennsylvanians. And we have a responsibility in Harrisburg to uphold that right and ensure everyone has the resources to stay safe in their homes.
Between the remaining American Rescue Plan funds we received from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to recover from COVID-19 and the extra money Pennsylvania has left over after paying its bills, we have billions of dollars sitting in the bank right now that can be invested to help renters and homeowners.
How? By putting some of these resources toward supporting initiatives like the Emergency Rental Assistance Program created in response to the pandemic that connected tenants with critical relief to prevent eviction. Because of such high demand, though, counties like Philadelphia have run out of funds.
With these dollars, we could help schools ease property taxes by making monumental progress toward fully and fairly funding every school in Pennsylvania. Not only would this provide a quality education in a safe learning environment that our students need and deserve, but it could give schools the ability to relieve financial burdens on property owners, including seniors.
Though these are common sense priorities for me, I have colleagues in Harrisburg who would rather keep this excess funding locked away, even though there are so many struggling across Pennsylvania who need it now.
While I work on getting these funds to those who need it, I want you to know about free housing assistance that is currently available, including:
- Pennsylvania Homeowners Assistance Fund: provides help with mortgage and housing-related expenses to eligible homeowners facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program: offers rebates on property tax or rent paid the previous year by income-eligible seniors and people with disabilities.
- Philadelphia’s Eviction Diversion Program: connects residential tenants and landlords with resources that help them resolve issues and reach an agreement to avoid the eviction process.
- Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania: provides legal advice and litigation services related to mortgage foreclosure and other homeownership/renter issues. Call 1-800-429-5994.
You can learn more about these services, along with other housing aid that is available, by attending my monthly foreclosure prevention event me and team hold on the first Wednesday of every month from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at my office, located at 52 S. 60th St. in Philadelphia. Counselors from the Affordable Housing Centers of PA will be there to answer your questions and connect you with the support you need.
For more information about housing or any state-related issue, please contact my office at 215-748-6712. We are proud to serve you and your family.