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Housing

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

Local updates to laws

BenePhilly Offers support and guidance with social service applications and legal assistance at various local organizations. 833-3737-5668

Broad Street Ministry Offers to-go lunches, support for SNAP benefits, and additional social service assistance for housing (mail service), legal assistance, and healthcare.

Catholic Social Services Offers emergency food, housing, as well as parenting and child care assistance (diapers and formula. Casa del Carmen (4400 North Reese St.) 267-331-2500 Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. Northeast Philadelphia (7340 Jackson St.) 215-624-5920 Monday to Friday, 9 - 11:30 a.m. and 1 - 2 p.m. Southwest Philadelphia (6214 Grays St.) 215-724-8550 Monday 10 a.m. - 1 p.m

COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program Though applications for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program are no longer being accepted, you can check the status of your application if it was submitted during either Phase 1 or 2. If you were not able to apply for either phase, and are facing eviction, you may seek assistance through the Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project by visiting PhillyTenant or call the hotline at 267-443-2500 for help, including legal assistance.

Together We Rise Offers emergency financial assistance to college students who have been displaced, are experiencing homelessness, and need help with unexpected housing expenses. Fill out this form if you are a displaced student in need of help.

What to do if you’re in an unsafe housing situation

Whether it’s a bad relationship with parents, family, or the people you live with, we know an unsafe housing situation can happen quickly, and present many unique challenges. For many students, college was their reprieve from these situations, and being sent back to an unsafe home can be particularly difficult.


Hotlines that assist people with unsafe living environments are still operating. Many hotlines also have texting options that may be easier to use if you’re in self-isolation with other people and want to maintain your privacy.


Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline If you think that your relationship is abusive or if you know someone who you think is being abused, call the 24-hour hotline operated through Women Against Abuse at 1-866-723-3014. Hotline counselors can help connect you with free services in the Philadelphia area, including emergency housing, legal services, behavioral health services, and more! Bilingual counselors are available on the line for non-English speaking individuals.

Women Organized Against Rape Counseling for adults, teens, and children affected by sexual violence including sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape/date rape, and incest. 24-hour helpline: 215-985-3333

Children’s Crisis Treatment Center Specializes in delivering behavioral health services to children and their families. 215-496-0707

Lutheran Settlement House Bilingual Domestic Violence Program Individual/group counseling in Spanish/English for all survivors including men and teens. LSH is a non-profit, community-based organization committed to serving children, adults, and families living in Philadelphia. The Bilingual Domestic Violence Program provides free, quality counseling services for victims and survivors of domestic and dating abuse regardless of gender or sexual orientation. 215-426-8610 ext. 1236

Menergy Counseling & therapy program for people who have been verbally or physically harmful in a relationship. Services in English and Spanish. 215-242-2235

Joseph J. Peters Institute Offers individual, group and family therapy programs for individuals who have committed sexual offenses, have sexual behavior problems or have a history of perpetrating interpersonal violence. 215-665-8670

Access a homeless shelter

We want to help you do everything possible to avoid homeless shelters right now. They are already overwhelmed and may not be able to keep people safe from infection during this public health crisis. However, if necessary, a shelter is better than going without housing altogether. If you have other safe housing options, we advise you to explore them before entering a shelter.


If you are or know of someone in Philadelphia experiencing homelessness, call the Project HOME 24-Hour Homeless Outreach Hotline at 215-232-1984 or 1-877-222-1984. You can also use the Where to Turn During COVID-19 Guide as a resource for help.


The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless services lists several intake sites for emergency housing, including this homeless shelter directory to locate a shelter within the Philadelphia area.


If you need a mailing address to establish residency, get identification, search for employment, and receive benefits, contact Broad Street Ministry’s Samuel Steffan at samuel@broadstreetministry.org or 215-735-4847 ext. 103.


If you are between 18 and 24 years old and experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia County, you can also go to a youth access point to be evaluated for services through the homeless assistance system at one of the following agencies:

Valley Youth House Offers a variety of emergency, independent, and permanent housing services based on age. 1500 Sansom St., 3rd Floor 215-925-3180 Monday: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Wednesday: 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Thursday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Friday: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. If you are under 18, contact the Valley Youth House Synergy Project Hotline for resources at 1-888-HOUSE-15. If you are 18 and up, contact Homeless Outreach at 1-877-222-1984.

Vital Documents Toolkit for young adults entering a Homeless Shelter (PDF) Offers basic information about how to obtain vital documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, state identification cards, working papers and health records. You need one or more of these documents to get a job, apply for benefits, get an apartment, apply for a GED and apply for college.

Get help paying for utilities and other bills

Call your creditors (anyone to whom you owe money) and the companies that send you bills to get your payments stopped or reduced. Be sure to clearly state upfront that you are a college student, your income has been affected because of COVID-19, and you are unable to afford the current payments.


As of October 8, 2020, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has enhanced the emergency order prohibiting terminations by utilities that are under the PUC’s jurisdiction, including electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication, and steam. The safeguards will remain in effect until March 31, 2021, unless the Governor’s Emergency Proclamation is rescinded before that date or the Commission establishes a different timeframe.


Additionally, you may qualify to get a reduction in your heating bill through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Your eligibility will be based on the following:

  • You must meet income guidelines (see guidelines)

  • You don't have to be on public assistance

  • You don't need to have an unpaid heating bills

  • You can rent or own your home


Apply for LIHEAP using COMPASS.


If you need additional help with a utility shut-off notice, Community Legal Services offers guidance to navigate this process. If you or your family live outside of Philadelphia, find help here.

Electric Bill Savings Program The Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO) and other electric companies in Pennsylvania offer budget plans and tips that can help you save money throughout the year. Apply for ​PECO's Customer Assistance Program here.

Gas Bill Savings Program The PGW Customer Responsibility Program can help you better afford your bill and keep service on. Apply for PGW’s Customer Responsibility Program by accessing your account here.

Utility Emergency Services Fund UESF provides financial assistance to low income individuals and families who are facing utility terminations or who have had their utilities shut off

Water Bill Savings Program The City of Philadelphia can assist you with paying your bill as a result of COVID-19. Apply for the Water Revenue Bureau’s Customer Assistance here.

Still in need of help? Check out the other sections of the Philadelphia Local Guide.


Please note: Edquity does not endorse nor is Edquity associated with any business, organization, product or service that is mentioned in these Guides. Edquity is not responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the information provided, which may change over time. We encourage you to contact the business or organization listed to receive the most up-to-date information.

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COVID College Support was curated by Edquity and local student partners to help college students navigate emergencies during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Edquity is an application that supports college students through tough situations, from redirecting them to the right resources to providing emergency funds in times of need.

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