Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
ERAP was created to help renters dealing with financial challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For eligible households, the program offers rental and utility assistance to help Pennsylvanians avoid eviction or loss of utility service.
Rent expenses include rent, rent arrears, rental costs for trailers and trailer lots, and may include long-term housing hotels, motels, and boarding homes.
Utilities include separately stated electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil.
Other expenses related to housing include but are not limited to relocation expenses, rental fees, reasonable late fees, internet services for work, home schooling, telemedicine, etc.
Bethlehem residents can submit applications online at https://newbethanyministries.org/housing-assistance/.
Evictions and Foreclosures
An eviction is a legal process carried out by the local court system. The Northampton and Lehigh County courts are currently closed and not proceeding with eviction hearings at this time. Questions on the County's court system can be found at the following links:
Northampton County: https://www.nccpa.org/magisterial-district-judges
Lehigh County: https://www.lehighcounty.org/Services/Suspended-Services
Additional information about evictions can be found in the "federal eviction moratorium for tenants living in certain types of housing" which provides further guidance on tenants' rights and foreclosures during this time. A summary of this moratorium can be viewed on the National Housing Law Project's website at the following link: https://www.nhlp.org/wp-content/uploads/2020.03.27-NHLP-CARES-Act-Eviction-Moratorium-Summary.pdf
If you believe that you have been wrongfully evicted from your home or wrongfully had your property foreclosed, you can file a complaint with the Office of Attorney General of PA at the following link: https://www.attorney general.gov/taking-action/press-releases/ag-shapiro-to-landlords-pennsylvanians-cannot-be-evicted-during-state-emergency/
Note: The information provided is not intended to substitute or constitute as legal advice. It is recommended to seek professional legal advice on specific matters that arise.
Tenant Rights and Fair Housing Concerns
The Questions and concerns about tenants' rights and Fair Housing violations during this crisis can be mailed to Penn Legal Services. Penn Legal is a non-profit that is supported by the City of Bethlehem in order to address concerns of this nature. At this time, Penn Legal's office is closed and is accepting online inquiries only. Send inquiries to : https://www.northpennlegal.org
The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program that helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more. The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. The Affordable Connectivity Program is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
Household Eligibility Includes:
A household is eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program if the household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or if a member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income internet program;
- Participates in one of these assistance programs:
- The National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veterans Pension or Survivor Benefits
- Participates in one of these assistance programs and lives on Qualifying Tribal lands:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribal TANF
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Tribal Head Start (income based)
Two step enrollment process:
- Go to ACPBenefit.org to submit an application or print out a mail-in application.
- Contact your preferred participating provider to select a plan and have the discount applied to your bill.