Lehigh County agencies and charities receive funds to offer eviction prevention services as well as rapid rehousing to income qualified residents. The grants, most of which originate from the Housing and Urban Development, the local welfare office, as well as the Lehigh County Office of Aging and Adult Services, pay for a resource known as Homeless Assistance Program (HAP).
Based on what exactly the applicant needs from HAP, some or all of the following may be provided. Any grant based aid does come with restrictions and is limited. There may be the following assistance.
-In an emergency, money or loans may be provided for paying rental arrears.
-To stop an eviction, Lehigh County tenants may also receive financial help for their heating, water, or electric bills.
-Legal aid is also available from several Allentown Pennsylvania based law firms.
-The currently homeless can receive either free motel vouchers or security deposit help.
-Ongoing case management, including for both tenants and homeowners threatened with a foreclosure.
There will be priority given to tenants who are near homelessness, so that means either they anticipate receiving a pay or quit/eviction notice in the near future or their landlord has already sent them one. There are also income limits in place, including the total amount for the household needs to be less than 200 percent of the federal government poverty level. This includes income from all sources, including a job, SSI disability, child support, pension, or other sources.
There are a few non-profits that will offer this service. They include the Lehigh County Conference of Churches, Hispanic American Organization, and also the Community Action Committee. The phone numbers are below. Each has their own funding limits, and any grants paid out will be for paying different housing expenses. Once the money runs out from HUD, no other aid is offered.
What may be covered by Homeless Assistance Program (HAP) is rent, various utility bills, and non-monetary support. So HAP can pay attorneys to give legal advice (if they do not qualify for free assistance from the lawyer) or address job training needs too. What ever it takes to stop the eviction may be offered to local Allentown area families.
Eviction assistance is one time only. It can help address an emergency that the applicant may have. Since the support is short term only, then the tenant needs to have an income that is sustainable. Or if they are unemployed, then eviction help may be issued if the applicant is assured of receiving an income in a few short weeks. So maybe they have a new full time job starting soon.
Once money has been issued, the next step for the applicant to gain ong term stability involves meeting with the staff from the Lehigh County Office of Aging and Adult Services. This non-profit does not only help senior citizens or the disabled that may have an eviction notice, but they coordinate services across the county. This is done in partnership with the county as well as other local charities.
With the demand for affordable rental units often exceeding supply, it can be a challenge for a family to keep up with their ever increasing monthly rental costs. The Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV) will do its best to help individuals or families by coordinating eviction prevention programs, but there are no guarantees to receiving help.
It does not matter if an individual is homeless or residing in an “unfit” home, there may be rapid rehousing available in Lehigh County. Clients may be currently living in a motel or group or domestic violence shelter, a mental health facility, be homeless or leaving a hospital. The program was designed by HUD to be as inclusive as possible. There is even financial help for single moms that need to find stable accommodations for their children to live in.
There are some families that unfortunately live in unsafe/hospital home. Maybe the landlord won't fix some obvious issues such as plumbing or heat, or maybe there are dangerous structural defects or other issues. This is when a Lehigh County attorney can sue the property owner to stop the eviction from occurring. When that is done, rehousing is the next step.
The Lehigh County HAP (Homeless Assistance Program) is used to meet this goal. The first step is to get the person off the streets and/or into a safe place. Local shelters or free motel vouchers often meet this goal. Once this goal has been met, there will be stabilization services given by the Office of Aging.
Often when someone is homeless or just was evicted, then they often lack the cash to pay for moving expenses, such as a security deposit. HUD grants or interest free loans may be used for this expenses as well as utility connections. However, similar to the eviction prevention programs listed above, the applicant needs to prove they can pay future rental costs on their own.
Learn more on the homeless prevention programs, or apply for intake, at the Allentown as well as Lehigh County agencies listed here. They include Catholic Social Agency ((610) 435-1541), Conference of Churches at (610) 439-8653, the Hispanic American Organization (dial (610) 435-5334) or the community action agency at 610-691-5620.
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