HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County is preparing to begin working with another agency — the Community Action Center — to administer a program that helps tenants who are struggling to pay their housing and utility bills.
The Center for Community Action, an Everett-based agency with an office in Altoona, is preparing to begin administering the Emergency Rental Assistance Program 2 by accepting applications beginning May 16.
Altoona’s Blair County Community Action, which administered Emergency Rental Assistance Program 1 on behalf of the county, is expected to complete tasks associated with this program and distribute remaining funds.
Commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb said Tuesday the decision to contract with the Community Action Center reflects complaints the county and lawmakers have received about the administration of the previous program.
Commissioner Amy Webster, who joined Tuesday’s meeting by phone, spoke of a significant increase in new requests during the COVID-19 pandemic that has made it difficult to track community action in Blair County.
When the Mirror contacted Blair County Community Action for comment, they had to leave a message on the answering machine.
Information on the agency’s website indicates that between April 2021 and April 2022, it distributed $5.86 million to help 965 households pay rent, 483 households pay utilities, and 137 households with temporary living conditions.
Wendy Melius, executive director of the Center for Community Action, said her agency, which works with multiple counties, looks forward to working with Blair County residents who need financial assistance with rent and utility payments. public.
The Center for Community Action, she said, already provides assistance to Blair County residents through the Employment Advancement Retention Network, which helps those in need of job training, and the Early Learning Resources Center. , which provides childcare services to qualified applicants.
Melissa Gillin, quality assurance and housing coordinator for the Blair County Department of Social Services, said applications for financial assistance under the Emergency Rental Assistance Program 1 are no longer accepted, as this program is coming to an end.
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program 2, she said, is set to extend through 2025 and provide Blair County residents with up to $6.7 million in financial assistance.
The Center for Community Action, in a press release on Tuesday, said county residents in need of financial assistance should apply through the state’s COMPASS website at www.compass.state.pa .us.
Those who have problems accessing or manipulating the website can contact the Community Action Center for assistance at 814-201-2285.
Once applications are submitted through COMPASS, the Community Action Center says a case manager will contact the household for more information.
To receive assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program 2, the Community Action Center says a household must have been impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, be equal to or less than 80% of the area median income and have not received more than 18 months of assistance through the Emergency Housing Assistance Program 1.
The press release issued by the Center for Community Action also noted that the agency, while currently located at 1010 12th St., will be moving to 1216 Pleasant Valley Blvd. in June.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.