Chester County homeless prevention and rehousing.

Multiple agencies in Chester County coordinate homeless prevention programs. Some focus on families with children or single moms and others assist low to moderate income families that are faced with a crisis. Whether it is potential homeless event due to an eviction, foreclosure, or legal dispute, programs can help stop it or even rehouse the Chester County family.

A few of the leading agencies include the Chester County Assistance Office and their emergency shelter allowance (dial 610-466-1000), Interfaith Housing (which helps homes with kids (dial 610-696-5675), as well as Phoenixville Area Community Services (phone 610-933-1105). Even if one of these organizations can't stop the eviction, they often can give the client a referral.

When turning to a government agency, such as the Department of Welfare or Community Development (dial (610) 344-6900), some of those programs will require the applicant to meet many other criteria before any type of grant or security deposit help is issued. As any example, the homeless prevention from the government is known as Emergency Shelter Allowance (ESA). This will generally only provide additional money for rental or mortgage payments to people already on cash assistance or benefits such as FS or Medicaid.

DPW may also have information on other federal government, HUD funded homeless prevention and rapid rehousing programs. Two of the others include Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) as well as Emergency Solution Grants (ESG). These combine grants along with support such as transitional housing, case management, legal aid, and much more. The goal is to keep as many families as well as individuals safely housed.

SSVF focuses on preventing foreclosure as well as evictions for veterans. Not only that, but the  Supportive Services for Veterans Families will also help any former member of the military that is now homeless. Chester County agencies want to ensure people that have served our country have every resource available to them that they need.

Veterans can be given grants for their housing needs (such as rent, motel vouchers, utilities or security deposits) as well as short term housing if hey need it. Long term support is also coordinated. The case managers will help them find a job (or get a better paying one), apply for VA benefits, and solve other barriers they may be faced with.





Charity organizations also can coordinate homeless prevention programs in the region. The groups will often try to coordinate resources in an effort to avoid duplication of services. Some agencies may offer pro-active outreach so that the homeless that fall into the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act are identified. Each one of these organizations in Chester County has their own terms and conditions in place, such as Interfaith Housing Assistance offers helps to tenants with children, including several single mother rent assistance programs.

Federal government funds will be issued for everything from paying back rent to heating bills or a mortgage payment. There may also be grants available to pay a security deposit or even motel voucher in an effort to get the family back into a new, affordable home or apartment. Generally these agencies, such as the Phoenixville Area Community Services, will only help in a crisis and they require the applicant to homeless prevention or rehousing to have a source of income.

Applicants also will be assisted on a first come-served basis. The Chester County charities generally have very little resources available to then. They often depend on agencies such as the United Way or HUD Emergency Solution Grants, which are allocated annually. This means that only a small number of individuals may be able to receive money for any housing or rent costs they have.

Evictions in Chester County can also be stopped using legal assistance and/or mediation. A firm in West Chester (phone (610) 436-4510) covers the county and there are agencies that also partner with other lawyers in Southeastern Pennsylvania. This type of assistance is effective at helping prevent homelessness for situations such as landlord-tenant disputes, discrimination, or the lack of power or other utilities.




Lawyers as well as their legal staff (such as paralegals) from Chester County, most of whom are volunteers, will help families with an eviction or foreclosure notice. They will assess the situation and provide guidance to the tenant or homeowner. Whether it is a mediated solution or representation in court, the free Legal Aid of Southeastern and Chester County can be an effective resource.

The phone numbers of many of the homeless prevention programs in Chester County are noted above. Call for referrals and more information.


By Jon McNamara

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