There are several sources of eviction prevention programs in Scranton and across Lackawanna County. The government provides various organizations grants on an annual basis to help prevent homelessness, and this form of aid addresses many needs. Support is available for everything from stopping an eviction to placement into temporary housing in a shelter/motel as well as rapid rehousing.
While the assistance is for emergencies, it is strongly recommended to ask for help way before a pay or quit notice has been given to the tenant. The main reasons for this are funds may run out, it is often too late to help a family once the eviction process has started, and by waiting it does not provide time to address the root cause of the housing crisis. So seek help from a social service agency as early as possible.
Local families with either an eviction notice can receive referrals to a program for their needs. The main phone number to dial is (570) 343-1267. There are no promises to receiving help, and grants or even case management provided is solely at the discretion of the agency that administers it. However, for those that apply and are fund eligible, there may be the following services arranged.
Emergency solution grants is often used to pay arrears on housing costs. Depending on what is needed, the Lackawanna County resident can receive money for rental arrears, water or electric bills, or other costs that may lead to the eviction if left unpaid. This ESG program can sometimes be combined with additional funds from a local charity or even more specialized programs, such as SSVF which helps veterans who are threatened with an eviction.
When the money runs out in Scranton (and it will due to the high demand) this does not mean the tenant is completely out of options. They can still look into solutions such as payment plans or landlord/tenant mediation. In many cases, the eviction can be stopped using non-monetary programs, and those are two examples of what can be done.
Lackawanna County law firms may also offer free legal aid for civil matters, and eviction prevention is one use. If the applicant is very low income (or a senior regardless of their income) the advice is given to them for free. An attorney (or a paralegal) will meet with the client to assess their need. If it is unpaid rent, then the legal solutions are more limited. However if the eviction is caused by unsafe housing, repairs needed to a property, or similar issues, this option can be more effective.
Another service provided is rapid rehousing. Non-profits as well as the government do not want people living on the streets of Scranton, especially if they have a source of income and were hit by a one time crisis. In these instances, the programs will help those people that were evicted and are now homeless.
The process is multi-step. First, the family is normally placed into short term housing, and if they are full then a motel voucher may be issued. There are sites for everyone from single mothers to the disabled. Intensive case management then starts up to give the client the skills they need to break the cycle of homelessness and evictions.
Once those goals have been met, the client will work with a social worker to find a new home to reside in within the Scranton area. Once again, as this process continue, vouchers may be used for paying for short term needs in motels or transitional housing can be explored. After an affordable, low income apartment has been found, ESG grants can cover a portion of the security deposit or first months rent.
All of this assistance is contingent on the root cause of the hardship being addressed. The goal is to ensure the person has the skills (and income) to pay their bills or support their lifestyle on their own in the future. This is the only effective way to stop a future eviction from occurring, and self-sufficiency is stressed in Lackawanna County.
Some of the local social service agencies will use their allotment of emergency solution grants to pay for these programs. This means a tenant can be placed into a job training program or workshops to help them understand the obligations of a renter. This case management process is often ongoing and it can last for months.
Anyone that is struggling with keeping up with their housing in Lackawanna County, and that fear a future eviction, should call (570) 343-1267 for referrals. More information on the process can be provided.
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