By: Jimmy Lamb
This article will discuss what the Bucks Emergency Rental Assistance (BERA) is, who is eligible, and how to sign up.
Real assistance is on the way! A program better than before, as stated by officials in county and state government. Previously, rental assistance through the CARES Act was stringent. The program turned away approximately 75% of renters and 25% of homeowners, and this divide is notable enough.
Some reports show that landlords were not given much incentive to accept the aid, and requirements for tenants were extremely strict. Since the pandemic started Bucks County has seen 2,000 eviction cases, and 500 of those cases were filed since the start of this year. Proportionally, the 500 cases this year – in just three months – amount to more evictions occurring this year than last year by this time. This fact was recently pointed out by Jeff Fields (the Director of Housing and Community Development – a county official) at a county Commissioners meeting on March 17, 2021.
At this same Commissioners meeting was the public announcement of BERA – in a 9 minute presentation which can be found on Bucks County Government’s facebook or youtube page (starting at the 14 minute mark until the 25 minute mark). The program was launched weeks prior, back on March 1st. In the first 17 days it was open, the program already received 900 applications from tenants and 100 applications from landlords. Funding has come from a variety of state and federal funds, with more to come from the American Rescue Plan.
Who is Eligible?
According to Jeff Fields, “The BERA program’s goal is to stop evictions and displacement of renters, while helping landlords get the funds needed to pay their mortgages and maintain their properties.”
The application process helps applicants verify whether or not they meet the requirements for the aid.
There are Federal requirements, but do not be deterred. Requirements include:
- Proof of being a Bucks County resident
- One makes 80% or less of area median income (AMI)
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- (Directly or indirectly) Impacted financially by the Corona Virus pandemic
- At risk for homelessness or housing instability
- (Examples include: late/past due balance notice, eviction summons, and/or inability to pay future rent)
Who can complete and submit an application?
The tenant or landlord are able to complete the application.
A landlord may fill out one application for all qualifying renters; individual applications for individual renters is not necessary. The tenant will also need to be involved, submitting necessary qualifying documents; therefore, a landlord cannot apply without cooperation from the tenant.
If the tenant completes the application, the landlord will be contacted to verify the past due amount owed, and to accept the relief payment on the tenant’s behalf.
Eligibility criteria is outlined on the application itself.
How to Apply?
Simply call 888-50-BUCKS or go to the website http://www.buckscounty.org/renthelp.
Whether you are a tenant or landlord, both parties have the option to apply!