Mar 1, 2022 - News

Philly's latest round of rent relief funding falls short of need

Illustration of three windows on a brick wall, with Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington in them.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Philadelphia has received the final influx of state and federal money the city requested for its emergency rental assistance program, according to a city email obtained by Axios.

  • It's expected to last two weeks.

Why it matters: While the flow of money won't cover the need, it will help nearly 3,300 households whose applications to the city's cash-strapped rent relief program have already been approved.

State of play: The U.S. Treasury sent $8.3 million to Philly for its rent assistance program two weeks ago. Days later, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services distributed $9 million to the city.

Catch up fast: The city has provided more than $253 million in rental assistance to nearly 40,000 households since May 2020.

  • Philadelphia requested a total of $485 million from the state and federal government last fall after the Treasury announced it wanted to reallocate billions in rent relief.
  • In January, the city announced that it was shuttering its program due to low funds.

Details: The new funding will be directed to the backlog of applications from individuals who sought aid prior to the program closing in early January.

  • Philly will give priority to applicants at risk of lockout and those participating in the city's eviction diversion program, the landlord-tenant mediation initiative that emerged in the pandemic as an alternative to court.

By the numbers: City staffers have completed reviewing about 70% of the more than 81,000 applications in the latest phase of the program.

  • Of the roughly 56,000 reviewed this round, only about half have been approved, according to the city's dashboard, last updated Friday.

What's next: The city will disburse the funds until they're depleted, spokesperson Jamila Davis told Axios.

  • After that, staff will still complete the review of all applications so that the city knows how many individuals are in need should it receive more funding in the future.
  • Davis expects staff will complete the review of 9,000-10,000 applications in the final stages by mid-April.

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