Affordable housing remains a priority for residents of Bucks County – it was the greatest need identified in a 2021 community survey. The results were released in March by the Bucks County Opportunity Council (BCOC), the leading anti -poverty of the county.

In March, housing agencies and advocates in Bucks County said they saw an increase in the number of community members on the verge of displacement or already homeless, particularly since the start of the pandemic.

Bucks County Commissioners recently released “Performance Standards” for mixed-use development across the county, intended to encourage municipalities to “explore, develop and pass ordinances permitting mixed-use development and the creation of accessible additional accommodation”.

Brit Montoro is an organizer for Bucks Tenant Solidarity, a grassroots organization that helps tenants find rental assistance, legal advice and offers support in finding affordable housing.

Montoro said they are happy that BERA is still active.

“It would be amazing if a program like this was allowed to continue even in subsequent years,” Montoro said. “Considering that the cost of living isn’t going down…and then at the same time socio-economic conditions aren’t improving relative to people’s housing needs…it’s a lifesaver.

Montoro still has some concerns about the program, including that landlords have the power not to accept BERA funds for tenants.

Montoro also said some former candidates had problems receiving their help.

“There are people who have been stuck waiting for the BERA who were on the list, either to be approved for rental assistance or we are still waiting [to be processed.] And then the timeline… Basically, when their owner wanted them out, they were out.

State of Emergency Rental Assistance in Suburban Philadelphia

Montgomery County’s emergency rental assistance program, the Your Way Home Emergency Rent & Utility Coalition (ERUC), continues for the foreseeable future.

According to the county, as of July 2022, ERUC has provided more than $65 million in assistance to 6,161 households.

The Delaware County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (DELCO ERA) ends Sept. 10 at 4 p.m. as it is about to cover “100% of expenses” of its allocation of public funds.

According to the county, the program processed 11,196 grants, with an average assistance amount of $6,000 for more than 9 months of rent and/or utility assistance.

In Chester County, the rental and emergency utility program is expected to continue through 2023, according to a county spokesperson. Eligible residents can receive up to 15 months of ERAP assistance.

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