Fair Housing Center works with low income clients facing a temporary crisis. Resources are available across Lancaster County. While it can't always be done, the goal is to offer the person access to a variety of services that targets their needs.
When it comes to lack of affordable housing or an eviction notice, a housing consultation is set up with the Fair Housing Center. Clients may be offered access to short term help (approximately 1-3 months) which may include some or all of the following. There can be mediation between themselves and their landlord, funds to pay a portion of rent, information/referrals for locating new housing or maintaining their current home and one to one support with a Housing Caseworker to help stabilize their situation.
Housing Choice Vouchers are used for paying a portion of rent on a monthly basis. This is known as section 8. The family needs to be living in a safe, stable and affordable apartment in Lancaster Pennsylvania which they could otherwise not afford. Eligibility for any family is income based with only a portion of the rent paid by the program. The rest of the balance must be paid by the client.
The amount due from the tenant is typically determined to be between 30-40 percent of the client’s monthly adjusted gross income. Case management and other supportive services are available from Fair Housing Center for tenants that are participating in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program.
For low income clients who are veterans there is case management and temporary financial help. These solutions include HUD sponsored SSVF and more. The goal is to help individuals or former military members with families to ensure their housing is stable. Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) helps veterans stabilize their living situation through case management and cash grants.
Preventing homelessness for struggling members of the community includes applications to government grants. There may also be Emergency Shelter or access to housing vouchers for those that qualify. Fair Housing Center will also help in locating community resources to establish stable accommodations in the long term.
Fair Housing Center Transitional Housing offers a place to stay. During this time, staff work with low income clients for up to a year and provides services like budget counseling and credit repair. This is done to help them achieve long term financial security.
Seniors and the disabled are clients of Fair Housing Center Shelter Plus Care. This is a program for homeless clients that uses vouchers to pay a portion of family's household rent. The vouchers from Shelter Plus are specifically for individuals struggling with disabilities, mental illness, a serious illness, in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse or those who are HIV positive.
Prospective clients to Fair Housing Center must be assessed by HUD as homeless or disabled through the before mentioned program criteria. In order to ensure their eligibility throughout the program, clients must maintain and comply with the HUD determined requirements. People must also be enrolled in treatment services for their diagnosis through a partner agency that provides the referrals to Fair Housing Center. All of this is done while concurrently making strides to become independent in their lives.
HOPWA is for households impacted by HIV or Aids. The agency will coordinate Short-Term Housing Assistance and offers a multitude of services to clients including short term rent/mortgage help, emergency utility or heating bill payments, access to longer term HOPWA housing voucher subsidies and suitable affordable listings for placement into a new apartment in Lancaster Pennsylvania. Participants are also strongly encouraged to participate in HIV related medical care and treatment.
Fair Housing Center Eviction Prevention is provided through mediation or temporary financial help to households in a crisis. A grant or loan may be used for those that are facing a short term loss of income or receipt of a 5 day notice from a landlord. Another service is mediation. This is available between the landlord and tenant and it too oftentimes prevents an eviction from occurring and helps stabilize the situation.
The Landlord/Tenant Mediation program from Fair Housing Center works to prevent evictions through the use of volunteer mediators who offer their services free of charge to interested parties. Referrals may also be made to free legal support in Lancaster County. These are often federal funded and are a collaborative effort with the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Rapid Re-housing gives low-income and currently homeless persons access to case management and temporary rent as well as security deposit help. This is combined with education from Fair Housing Center. This is after all an essential step in preventing homelessness from ever being an issue and the Smart Tenant Workshop provides advice and clarity on tenant laws in Pennsylvania, regulations, right and responsibilities as applicable to a tenant.
Low income clients seeking heat and utility bill assistance may be referred to LIHEAP or other federal government programs. Advice is also available on working directly with their utility provider to prevent an interruption in services.
Debt and credit counseling is available by Fair Housing Center partners. Counselors will advise struggling, low-income members of the community. They offer solutions that could lead to debt help, help them establish a plan and discuss government assistance programs that may apply to them.
The Emergency Solutions Grant offers struggling, at-risk clients rental or heating bill help help to prevent an imminent eviction from their housing. Along with eviction prevention, there is help with first months rent or foreclosure prevention assistance. Other supportive services include case management, advocacy and follow-up as needed.
ESG also touches on case management. Counselors from Fair Housing Center help clients seeking rental assistance by providing information packets on low-income rental housing in Lancaster County, landlords and budget analysis based on individual needs. This can lead to long term stability.
Foreclosure Prevention Counselors at Fair Housing Center have certification by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and State of Pennsylvania Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The professionals help struggling homeowners in the following ways:
-The counselor will educate and help clients understand the foreclosure process.
-The next step is to assess personal finances and establish a budget to determine possible resolutions leading to lower monthly house payments.
-Fair Housing Center will help communicate with a borrower's mortgage company and work with the loss mitigation department.
Develop a plan to overcome and resolve their mortgage crisis. If needed, there are referrals to other services to help them through a devastating financial crisis.
Fair Housing Center provides people from the community with work readiness skills. Topics touched upon include career awareness and exploration, employment preparation, job search, career success skills, financial awareness and the foundation work skills.
The main office is on East King Street. The Fair Housing Center referral line can be reached at 717-299-7840.
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