City of Scranton Introducing Rent, Mortgage Assistance to City Residents Adversely Impacted by COVID-19

By: Phil Rauch | Managing Editor

The City of Scranton is going to be providing rent and mortgage assistance to citizens struggling to pay during COVID-19 shutdowns that have caused business closures, loss of income, and shortened work hours.

According to the Times Tribune, the city announced it had earmarked $1.1 million of federal funds from the CARES Act to extend relief for “low to moderate income residents who have fallen behind on payments because of a job loss, reduction in hours, or other experienced hardship brought on by the pandemic.”

Eileen Cipriani, the Director of the city’s Office of Economic and Community Development, says she hopes the program will be up and running by mid-March. This comes relief program comes just shy of the first anniversary of the beginning of mass quarantine across the U.S. after COVID initially began spreading in the country.

Cipriani added that the program “is still in its infancy and will not be taking applications just yet.”

The program is supplementary to a $6.2 million dollar Lackawanna County program, also available to city residents, which is aimed at providing assistance for home utility payments. The county will be taking applications for that program beginning Monday Mar. 1, 2021.

The city has not yet tasked a specific agency to be in charge of the administration of applications, processing, or approval yet. Director Cipriani anticipates the procedural aspects of the program to be settled soon and, as aforementioned, the program to be fully operational by mid-March.

In order to qualify for application, residents must have an income level of 80% or less than the median family income in the region in which they reside.

Additionally, city residents can apply for both the county and city assistance programs, but they cannot be for the same expense.

For instance, if a city resident is applying for assistance from the city for utility bills, that same resident cannot then seek utility assistance payments from the county, and vice versa. However, a city resident can seek rent or mortgage assistance from the county and then utility assistance from the city.

Moreover, the city assistance program differentiates from the county program in that the city program provides assistance to homeowners facing eviction, and it provides legal fee assistance to renters facing eviction. Renters can have an attorney present during the eviction proceeding at court.

This is a developing story. Check for updates as the program gets implemented in the city.