PHILADELPHIA — February 5, 2021 — State Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) touted the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s action to drive out COVID-19 relief for vulnerable residents Friday after Senate Bill 109 was sent to Gov. Tom Wolf for signature.
The legislation directs about $570 million to rental and utility assistance programs, $145 million to a small business grant program, and nearly $200 million to schools across the commonwealth. Pennsylvanians have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, through no fault of their own, for nearly a year and driving out aid has been a top priority of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus throughout the public health crisis.
“Today’s legislative action will help keep thousands of people in their homes, provide assistance that allows small businesses to stay afloat, and assist schools in taking necessary steps to keep their students, teachers, and staff healthy and safe as we continue to work through the pandemic,” Sen. Hughes said. “My colleagues and I have fought hard to get aid to those hit hardest by the coronavirus, and we are pleased the legislature has taken action on much-needed relief. That said, we will continue to fight to secure additional aid so that we can build back Pennsylvania and help restore opportunities for those who have struggled during this unprecedented crisis.”
Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services will distribute the rental and utility assistance funding to the counties through a formula that ensure proportionate distribution. Counties and designated local entities will make payments on behalf of the tenant directly to the landlord or utility provider, unless the landlord or utility provider refuses to participate in the program, in which case funds will go to the tenant to pay outstanding rent or utility balances.
The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) will distribute the $145 million allocated through the legislation to each county through a formula that ensures proportionate distribution. Certified Economic Development Organizations (CEDO) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) will award grants to small businesses. Eligible businesses will receive grants up to $50,000. Priority will be given to eligible applicants who have not received aid from the state or federal government.
Emergency relief for nonpublic schools will be administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which will distribute the $150 million in funding and submit a final report on the allocation by Jan. 1, 2022. An additional $47 million in funding for career and technical schools, private schools, chartered schools for the deaf and blind, private schools, and community colleges will be administered by responsible state agencies. Gov. Wolf dedicated $2.2 billion in federal stimulus aid to K-12 Schools in January.
For more on the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus priorities on COVID-19 relief, visit pasenate.com/pacares.