MERCER – Officials administering the Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds expect to exhaust the grant funds by late April or early May.
The COVID pandemic relief program helps renters pay rent housing-related costs. The total amount received for this second round of funding was $5.5 million.
The ERAP office at 700 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Farrell, will accept 50 applications starting Feb. 15 and will process those on a first-come, first-served basis.
“The staff will be working full-time, but we will not accept additional applications until those are processed,” said Ann Morrison, Mercer County chief clerk. “The goal is always to review and process applications while we have available funding.”
As administrators of the grant, the Shenango Valley Urban League has processed 879 applications and denied 150 applicants who did not qualify. The total funds disbursed in the second round is $3,171,458.
Eleven months ago, the Mercer County commissioners considered returning the money to the state after the first round of assistance was complete. The county received $6.5 million for the program, which helped more than 2,200 clients, or five or six thousand county residents, pay their rent and utilities going back to March 2020, when the pandemic started.
The Mercer County Housing Authority administered the program’s first round but let county commissioners know up front that if there was a second or third round, they would not be able to continue. That is when the Urban League stepped up and took over for the second round.
County Commissioner Tim McGonigle said the Urban League’s work to take over the program provided a valuable service.
“It’s not just helping with rent and utilities, it helps out businesses,” McGonigle said. “That influx of more than $5 million in the community is crucial.”
Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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