Oct. 19, 2020

HARRISBURG – State Rep. Sue Helm (R-Dauphin/Lebanon) today announced that the House of Representatives has passed her legislation, House Bill 2868, which would provide protections for renters and homeowners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would amend the Mortgage and Rental Assistance Program, which is funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The bill includes the following changes to the Mortgage and Rental Assistance Program:

Increase maximum assistance caps by linking them to widely established industry standards.
Eliminate the requirement that households be at least 30 days in arrears for eligibility.
Extend the current application deadline through Nov. 13, 2020.
Remove the requirement that landlords and mortgagees waive their rights to remaining rent or mortgage obligation upon acceptance of CARES funding with the option to waive or participate in an alternative remedy.
o Landlords and tenants would be allowed to enter into repayment agreements.
o Mortgagees would assess borrowers’ eligibility under alternative loss mitigation programs.
o If the landlord or mortgagee agreed to waive the remaining balance, they would be entitled to a small financial incentive above the maximum assistance, so long as it does not exceed the total monthly rent or mortgage obligation.
Allow the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) to develop a form for those who cannot provide adequate documentation to verify income decrease.

“After months of operation, it has become clear changes are necessary to guarantee that households experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 are able to access the $175 million in funds approved by the Legislature. While application volume has been steady, feedback from PHFA and its partner organizations indicates that a few adjustments to the legislation would reduce barriers to participation and allow more effective utilization of these critical resources,” said Helm. “Now more than ever, we need to make sure families receive the support necessary to address their housing needs, giving them time to regain financial stability.”

The Mortgage and Rental Assistance Program was established in Act 24 of 2020 on Friday, May 29.

Representative Sue Helm
104th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives