Williamsport, Pa. – Lycoming County renters in need of assistance with rent or utilities can now apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). In Lycoming County, ERAP will be administered by Lycoming Clinton Counties Commission for Community Action (STEP), Inc.

ERAP was established and signed into law on February 5, 2021 and gives the Department of Human Services the authority to implement and administer the program in accordance with federal law. The purpose of the ERAP is to provide financial assistance to eligible household to pay rent, rental arrears, utilities, utility arrears, and other related housing expenses incurred due, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19. The Lycoming County Commissioners have authorized STEP, Inc. to administer the ERAP to all Lycoming County residents.

Eligible renters must be obligated to pay rent on a residential dwelling. STEP will confirm the following: 1) one or more individuals has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced income reduction or other hardship directly or indirectly due to the COVID-19 outbreak; 2) one or more household members can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and 3) the household is at or below 80% of the area median income (AMI). In Lycoming County, for a single person household, that is $36,350, with $4,150 added for each additional member.

Priority will be given to households meeting the following criteria:1) income not exceeding 50% of the AMI, or $22,750 for a single person household; 2) one or more household members are unemployed as of the date of the application and have not been employed for the 90 days preceding that date; and 3) have not previously received duplicative federally funded rental assistance.

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Assistance can be provided for the following:

  1. Eligible households with full payment of rental arrears for up to 12-months for past due rent that have been accrued after March 13, 2020. Payments will be made directly to eligible landlords.
  2. Eligible households can apply for prospective rent payments up to three months at a time and must resubmit eligibility determination information every three months for up to 12-months. Payments will be made directly to eligible landlords. Total assistance for rent payments (arrears or prospective rent payments) may not exceed 12 months total.
  3. Eligible households can apply for utility and home energy costs not already included in rent payment. Both past due payments and current payments are eligible. Payments will be provided directly to the utility providers. Utilities include separately stated electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash removal, and energy costs, such as fuel oil, and propane. Copies of all past due bills are required.

Customers may apply online at www.stepcorp.org/LycoRent now. Additional required documents are listed on that page. For questions specific to the application process, ERAP staff can be reached at LycoRent@stepcorp.org

or 570.601.9505. General questions can be directed to the main STEP number, 570.326.0587. Eligibility determination will not occur until all required documents are received.

This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.