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American Rescue Plan and Other Relief Programs

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (American Rescue Plan) was signed into law on March 11, 2021. It provides relief to address the continued impact of COVID-19 on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses. This page provides information and links for programs available to City of Bethlehem businesses and residents under the American Rescue Plan and previous COVID-19 relief legislation.

For access to the City of Bethlehem's public engagement hub, please visit our NEW quick link at We Build Bethlehem

To view the Administration's ARPA presentation on September 28th, 2021, please visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PIh18Zr-Sg

For the Mayor's 2022 budget proposal, including ARPA funding, please visit: 

https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/Meet-Your-Government/The-Mayor/Budget-Address

 
Housing Programs and Concerns

Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

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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

BROADBAND ACCESS

Background

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
    • SNAP
    • Medicaid
    • Federal Public Housing Assistance
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • WIC
    • Veterans Pension or Survivor Benefits
    • Lifeline
  • 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)

Enrollment

Two step enrollment process:

  1. Go to ACPBenefit.org to submit an application or print out a mail-in application.
  2. Contact your preferred participating provider to select a plan and have the discount applied to your bill.
Grow NORCO

Overview

The Grow NORCO Program (GNP) is designed to be a flexible source of capital that will assist Northampton County municipalities and not-for-profit organizations grow Northampton County’s economic prosperity and quality of life. The program will help the County prioritize and allocate its limited resources for the betterment of the County. Funding priorities of the Grow NORCO Program may change from round to round. Non-profits and Municipalities are encouraged to explore creative partnerships to implement their programs and projects. Applications that demonstrate partnerships or that advantage additional funds and resources may be prioritized.

Eligibility

All Northampton County non-profit organizations and municipalities.

Terms

All grants will be awarded based on a competitive review process.

How to apply

**Note** The earliest you can apply is Monday, June 20, 2022.
All applicants are required to register in the NCDCED County Relationship Manager (CRM) if you have not previously done so.  You will receive a confirmation email confirming your registration.

  1. Visit the DCED Grow NORCO webpage at https://www.northamptoncounty.org/CMTYECDV/Lists/Funds/FundForm.aspx?ID=27
  2. Download the Application, Program Guidelines, and Sources and Uses Budget Spreadsheet
  3. When you are ready to submit your application and supporting documentation, return to the CRM page and log in, complete hte required sections and upload the application and supporting documentation

Contact

Sarah Ortiz, sortiz@northamptoncounty.org, 610-829-6308

Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP)

What is LIHWAP?

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The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) is a temporary emergency program to help low income families pay overdue water bills. LIHWAP is a grant. You do not have to repay it.

To Receive Help...

  • Apply starting January 4, 2022
  • You don't have to be on public assistance
  • You need to have an unpaid water bill
  • You can either rent or own your home

How Does LIHWAP Work?

LIHWAP Crisis grants may be available if you have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing your water service. You can receive one Crisis grant for your drinking water service and one Crisis grant for your wastewater service, up to $2,500 each.

Crisis Situations Include:

  • Past-due water bills
  • Termination of utility service
  • Danger of having utility service terminated (received a notice that service will be shut off within the next 60 days

How Do I Apply?