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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 additional 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.
 
Business Relief Programs

SBA COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

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This loan provides economic relief to small businesses and non-profit organizations currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue.

SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
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This forgivable loan helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis.

SBA Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF)

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This program provides assistance for eligible restaurants, bars, and other food service businesses impacted by COVID-19.

SBA Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG)

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The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program provides emergency assistance for eligible venues.

SBA Debt Relief

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SBA provides a financial reprieve to existing borrowers during the pandemic.

SBA Cross-program Eligibility

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A summary of the‚Äč criteria to meet when considering different funding options.

PA COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP)

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Grants up to $20,000 funded by Northampton and Lehigh Counties and administered by the non-profit Rising Tide Community Loan fund. Application period opens March 15th - June 15th, 2021, or until grants have been exhausted.

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/
 

Attention Bethlehem Housing Providers...

The City of Bethlehem is seeking housing organizations, property owners and landlords with capacity to provide short-term or transitional housing to families and individuals that are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Rental subsidies and grants are available.

Please submit a Letter of Interest no later than June 30, 2021.

Read the Mayor's press release here.

Food Assistance for Low Income College Students

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If you are a college student and struggling to afford food, you might be eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits! Temporary changes under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 have expanded access to SNAP for low-income students.

You can easily apply online, or call 1-866-550-4355.

Broadband

Helping Households Connect

Qualifying low-income households that are struggling to afford broadband internet service can now apply for the temporary Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program.
The EBB will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households. Qualifying 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 EBB is limited to one monthly service discount and one device per household.

Household Eligibility Includes:

  1. Has an income that is at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
  2. Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year;
  3. Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  4. Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020; or
  5. Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.


Questions?

For any questions, visit the Emergency Broadband Benefit website, find PA broadband service providers offering the EBB discount in Pennsylvania, and for any other questions, refer to the Frequently Asked Questions webpage.