There are several agencies that offer both eviction help and other homeless prevention services in Lancaster County. The solutions are available for both tenants as well as homeowners that are facing foreclosure in the entire Antelope Valley area. Additional support, as indicated below, is also for the currently homeless in Lancaster, and they can apply for rapid rehousing.
A combination of non-profit organizations, such as the Continuum of Care as well as the Lancaster County Coalition to End Homelessness, partner with the DHS Department of Welfare in an effort to better coordinate resources. In some cases, a tenant can be given a cash grant for their rental or energy bill arrears, but more likely case management is used to stop an eviction from occurring. The main programs are noted below.
Free legal aid – Attorneys across the region, such as the pro-bono MidPenn Legal (address is 38 North Christian Street or dial (717) 299-0971)) have staff available that focus on housing needs. They provide a number of services to the indigent as well as very low income residents. Whether a Lancaster County resident leases their home, or owns it, eviction and foreclosure prevention assistance is provided.
The assistance is available at no cost to senior citizens. Also, if the resident has a very low income, then they too may be provide legal aid for free. Not only will an attorney give advice, but in some cases they can represent their client at court to contest the eviction.
Lancaster County Emergency Shelter Allowance – This is the DPW – Department of Welfare's main program for stopping evictions. It will provide a one time cash payment of at most a few hundred dollars. The money can be used for back rent, utility or heating, and even water bills. Not only can it help people or single mothers with a pay or quit notice from their landlord, but it also assists individuals that are living in a dangerous or unsafe home.
Rehousing is also provided by ESA. The welfare program will provide some funds to help the family move into a new, permanent home. This can be done in multiple steps, such as short term lodging in a motel. Then, when the time is ready, ESA can provide a grant for the security deposit or moving costs.
Evicted families can be placed into Transitional/Bridge Housing. This is offered to help people transition from supportive housing (such as a shelter or motel) to permanent, low income housing units in Lancaster County. The rehousing resource is offered by companies including Tabor Community Services (dial (717) 397-5182). This local, transitional housing program is paid for using grants from the HUD-McKinney service.
Eviction help from HAP (Homeless Assistance Program) – This is another option that is administered by the Lancaster Department of Public Welfare (call 717-299-7411). There is assistance for people that are on the verge of foreclosure, eviction, or that are currently homeless. Case management is combined with direct financial help and short term, temporary housing.
HAP will offer qualified, low income tenants direct rental assistance. Clients tend to be senior citizens, the disabled, and families living in poverty among others. When a homeless person applies for this Lancaster County service, they may be placed into emergency shelter. This is where they can access a variety of other homeless prevention services.
Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) are offered by the agencies that are part of the McKinney-Vento Continuum of Care. Both non-profits and charities administer this locally. Money may be issued from it to stop evictions and address other housing needs of struggling tenants in the community. There is also legal and counseling given to the client as part of this.
The Lancaster County Housing Authority ((717) 397-2835) is one of the leading organizations that is involved in the ESG program. They also work closely with the United Way and the state on this. The services extend across the entire Antelope Valley region in an effort to end homelessness in this community.
The disabled as well as mentally ill are often candidates for the Lancaster Safe Haven Model program or the Shelter Plus Care (S+C). Another resource in Lancaster is the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH). It will require the client to be sober and addiction free. Another criteria is to have a disability or mental illness. When qualified, an individual that was evicted/is homeless can be placed into this service.
The program will give the person either private or a semi-private room to live in. It also offers other supportive services, such as a meal or clothing for their basic needs. The focus of Lancaster County is on breaking the cycle of homelessness as well as evictions for this vulnerable group of residents.
The phone number to call for eviction assistance are above. It is always best to seek help early, before it is too late.
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