Emergency rental assistance program to aid Centre County residents

BELLEFONTE — For Centre County residents who have struggled to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is help on the way.

At Tuesday’s Centre County commissioners’ meeting, three key adult service items were passed unanimously by the board. The biggest item was submission of Centre County’s emergency rental assistance program plan to the Department of Human Services. The project total is for $10,680,110, which is federally funded through the period of March 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2021.

“As you can imagine, with that price tag — and of course, the need that’s in the community — we expect a high submission rate,” said Faith Ryan, Centre County adult services director. “We are working internally at this time to figure out how we want to plan for logistics and how we want to manage our high call volume.”

Ryan explained how the program will aid residents.

“It’s for rent arrears, future rent — up to three months — after that three-month period, households would have to be re-certified for assistance and utilities. It can help households up to 12 months as far back as March, 2020. And the program goes until the end of the calendar year,” Ryan said.

It is not a reimbursement program, Ryan said.

To be eligible, the income limit is 80 percent of the household median income. In Centre County, a the limit for a one-person household is $49,700. For a four-person household, it’s $70,950.

“We are eager to start this, but we ask for your patience as we work out some of the final administrative and technical aspects of this,” said chair Michael Pipe. “It’s moving quickly and the assistance that we’ve been granted from the federal government is certainly on its way out to our community members.”

According to commissioner Mark Higgins, the grant would be the “largest single grant in Centre County history.”

Another item that was passed Tuesday was a contract with Service Access and Management, Inc. (SAM) to provide administrative service assistance and housing stability services for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The contract total is $5,233,254.27, which is federally funded for the period of March 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2021.

Finally, the commissioners passed an amendment to the agreement with the Department of Community and Economic Development for the Emergency Solutions Grant-CARES Act (ESG-CV) for the period of July 8, 2020 through Jan. 8, 2022. This amendment reallocates $115,500 awarded for homeless prevention to the rapid re-housing program.

Visit www.centrecounty.pa.gov for more information about the program or to apply.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved:

— An amendment to the Professional and Administrative Services Agreement with the SEDA Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) for the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP) Grant. This amendment includes SEDA-COGs preparation and approval of all CHIRP receipts and expenditures. The county agrees to transfer the amount of $1,839,232 to SEDA-COG for the purpose of disbursing such funds to qualified businesses. SEDA-COG shall be compensated by the County for its services at a cost of $340 per application with the total cost not to exceed $58,855.

— A contract addendum with The Advocacy Alliance to allow for State allocations for the remainder of fiscal year 2020-2021 to provide intellectual disability services to include incident management in the amount of $10,000. This increases the contract total from $6,250 to $16,250, which is funded as follows: State ($15,501) and county ($749) for the period of July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

— A contract addendum with Crossroads Counseling, Inc. to allow for state allocations for the remainder of fiscal year 2020-21 to provide drug and alcohol services including screening/assessment, outpatient, community-based adolescent programming, recovery house, partial hospitalization, and MAT services in the amount of $52,083. This will increase the contract total from $72,917 to $125,000, which is funded as follows: Federal ($100,000), state ($23,500) and county ($1,500) for the period of July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

The Centre County commissioners will meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 9. That meeting will be held via Zoom and televised live on C-NET.


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