September 2021
PEC Programs Offer Assistance, Information, to Help Prevent Homelessness
Rental Assistance: Stories from the front lines
by Jessica Humphries, Manager, Prevention & Diversion Services
People's Emergency Center

We were recently able to assist two families living in Mantua, in close proximity to West Philadelphia's educational, scientific, and medical institutions. Both Lindsay and Beth (their names have been changed to protect their privacy) were impacted by COVID-19 layoffs and terminations in 2020. These families also faced immediate consequences of the end of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance earlier this month.

Lindsay is a single mom of 2 living in Mantua. She lost work due to the pandemic and received pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) for several months, which allowed her to make partial rent payments. Unfortunately, PUA benefits ended in September and like millions of Americans this left Lindsay with no income and no ability to catch up on her growing rental debt. Lindsay's landlord referred her to PEC's rent assistance program, and within two weeks we were able to clear $1,000 of her debt (about 50%) using MPA funds. Lindsay, who is still looking for work, is now at much lower risk of eviction and thanked PEC, saying "Thank you for your help! Your agency helped to save me and my children from being evicted from our current residence, we appreciate you guys so much!!"

Beth lives in Mantua with her teenage son. She lost her job due to pandemic lay-offs last year and has been receiving PUA since then. This allowed her to make partial payments on her utilities, but in September when PUA ended, she was left with no income and no ability to pay back her debt of over $1,300. She received a shut-off notice in early September and came to PEC for help. PEC was able to pay $1,000 of her utility debt using “Mantua- Powelton Alliance” funds, leaving her with just a few hundred dollars to pay back her electric bill and greatly reducing her risk of a shut-off. In response to this news, Beth was ecstatic and said, “Thank you Jess cause [sic} I needed this help. The bill was so high I thought I was never going to get it down! God sent you to me and I’m so blessed and grateful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” Beth is now two weeks away from starting a new job and will soon be able to pay the small remaining debt and move forward with a clean slate.
Community Meetings Connect Resources to Recipients
by Kevin Brown, Manager, Neighborhood Advisory Council
People's Emergency Center

The Neighborhood Advisory Sub-Committee at People’s Emergency Center, in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia’s Division of Housing and Community Development, facilitated a virtual resource fair focusing on the needs of small landlords, renters and local residents. Presenters included Rachel Mulbry, Assistant Program Mgr., Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC), who provided an overview on PHL RentAssist Phase IV. This new round of PHL RentAssist funding has about $127 million to spend on rental assistance and utility payments. Phase 4 will be able to help 10,000-15,000 renters. Landlords and tenants can both apply.

Additionally, Sue Wasserkrug, Program Administrator, CORA Good Shepard Mediation Program and Tony Abata, Housing Unit, Community Legal Services (CLS) presented on the Eviction Diversion Program. The City of Philadelphia's Eviction Diversion Program enables landlords and tenants to arrive at an agreement that works for both parties, without having to go to Court. This program is for landlords with tenants who have had difficulty paying rent due to a COVID-19 related hardship. Benefits of diversion and mediation include helping tenants avoid an eviction, while also helping landlords avoid vacancies and unit turnover costs. The Eviction Diversion Program implements the Emergency Housing Protection Act (EPHA) passed by City Council and signed by Mayor Kenney. 
Renters and Landlords can Apply for Assistance
If you’re a renter having trouble paying your rent, utilities, or other housing costs – or if you’re a landlord trying to stay afloat with tenants in this situation – help may be available. Visit the “Rental Assistance Finder” to find out what this means for you and what you can do. The site also includes resources to help renters and landlords understand other resources to help navigate various financial hardships related to the pandemic. In Philadelphia, visit Phase 4 rent assistance: www.phlrentassist.org, or Eviction Prevention Project for legal help: www.phillytenant.org
Image, child holding a drawing.
Final Announcement: Register Now for Wednesday's Summit, "Children Can't Wait!"
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
from 9 AM to 12 Noon
It will be virtual. 

The theme of this year’s summit is “Children Can’t Wait: How Pennsylvania Can Lead in Supporting Children Experiencing Homelessness.” More than 400 people are expected to attend. We hope you will be one of them!

The Summit will be opened by PEC Board Chair Greg El and moderated by PEC’s Early Childhood Education Director Roslyn Edwards. Omari Baye, BELL Program Manager, will deliver a special announcement.

Our Keynote speaker will be John McLaughlin, Education Program Specialist with the United States Department of Education. In his capacity, Mr. McLaughlin oversees the national implementation of the McKinney-Vento homeless education system.  

In addition, a panel of experts will share new their views and offer recommendations. The panel will include:

Tracey Campanini, Deputy Secretary, Office of Child Development and Early, PA Department of Human Services, will share new policies and procedures that support young children experiencing homelessness.

Donna Cooper, Executive Director of Children First, will discuss K-12 education challenges, how American Rescue Plan should be deployed, and what policymakers need to do.

Tracy Duarte, Director of the PA Head Start Collaboration Office will talk about a new report of homeless children accessing Head Start across Commonwealth and new efforts to increase enrollments.

Barbara Duffield, Executive Director of the Schoolhouse Connection, discussing national trends and how American Rescue Plan should be deployed.