Merski, Harkins urge residents to apply now for emergency rental assistance

ERIE, Nov. 18 – Help is still available through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins are urging residents who may be struggling with rent or utility payments to apply now.

“With eviction protections no longer in place, it’s important for residents to remember that help is still available through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program,” Merski said. “The program can provide up to 18 months of assistance for past-due rent or utilities dating back to March 2020, or for future payments. It can also help with housing-related expenses such as relocation, security deposits, application fees, accrued late fees and attorney fees related to eviction proceedings.

“But residents – especially those facing an imminent risk of eviction or utility shutoff – should not wait. Applying now may help prevent those circumstances and other major life disruptions.”

Harkins said, “As we head into winter, I urge anyone who is having trouble paying rent or utilities to apply for emergency assistance. Help is available even if residents are living in subsidized or Section 8 housing, as long as those costs are not reimbursed through another program.”

To qualify, a household must be responsible for paying rent and must meet the following criteria:

  • One or more household members has qualified for unemployment benefits, had a decrease in income, had increased household costs, or experienced other financial hardship due to or during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • One or more household members can show a risk of homelessness or housing instability.
  • The household’s income is at or below 80% of area median income ($40,050 for a single-person household, $45,800 for two people, $57,200 for a household of four, and $66,400 for a household of six). Resources like bank accounts and cars are not relevant to eligibility.

The lawmakers noted that either tenants or landlords may apply for ERAP. Tenants do not need their landlord’s permission to apply.

In Erie, the ERAP program is administered by the Erie County Care Management. To learn more, residents should contact the agency at 814-923-5512, email, or visit