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35,000 Philly Residents Have Applied for Rent Relief as Spending Deadlines Loom

WHYY: Taylor Allen - July 3, 2021

The City of Philadelphia is racing against the clock to disperse state and federal money for it’s fourth phase of rental assistance before the deadlines.

Philadelphia has to use 65% of nearly $57 million — equaling about $37 million — of federal funds coming from the state by the end of the month or else the money has to be returned.

As of Friday, the city had spent $34 million, three months into the program’s opening. Funds only began reaching applicants’ households a few weeks ago.

Greg Heller, senior vice president at Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, said he’s confident the city will reach that benchmark since it is on track to disperse about six to seven million dollars per week.

“At the pace we’re going, we should be through 65% of the state money by the end of week,” he said.

Both landlords and housing advocates agree that the latest phase is running more smoothly than three previous iterations, yet room for improvement remains.

“The program is just now getting up and running in terms of issuing payments,” said Rachel Garland, managing attorney of the housing unit at Community Legal Services, a legal aid nonprofit. “It’s been a slow process, and Philadelphia has definitely moved faster than many other places around the country, but when you’re a tenant waiting for money, two months can feel like a very long time.”

In many cases, people can’t see how far along they are in the process, leaving some in limbo.

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