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Updated: Sep 4

Local updates to laws

COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program verified September 1, 2020 The city of Philadelphia currently has a COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. As of August 19th Phase 2 is open for applications to apply for rental assistance. If you are facing eviction and need legal assistance, call the Philly Tenant Hotline at 267-443-2500. Housing counselors are available from 9 am-7 pm and weekend callbacks for emergencies.

Philadelphia Landlord/Tenant Legal Help Center verified September 1, 2020 Philadelphia’s first court-based legal assistance project, providing free legal information, advice, and limited representation to unrepresented, low‐income individuals of all ages who are facing eviction and other legal rental housing problems in Philadelphia.

Community Legal Services This non-profit organization offers free legal assistance for Philadelphians . They have two locations in the city but due to the pandemic they only accept new clients via phone (please call 215-981-3700). They provide a wide array of housing legal support and resources as well as other free-legal services.

Philadelphia Legal Assistance verified September 1, 2020 Free legal services to low-income residents of Philadelphia are available to access information and assistance regarding legal housing concerns, foreclosure, home repairs, and subsidized housing.

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

Homeless shelters

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.

The Office of Homeless services has several intake sites for emergency housing. You can also use this homeless shelter directory to locate a shelter within the Philadelphia area.

Youth/Young Adult Access Points are available for adults between the ages 18-24 to be assessed and referred to emergency shelters and pathways to stable, affordable housing any other services, including rapid rehousing, transitional housing, host home programs, and more.

St. Joseph’s House Transitional housing (up to 24 months) for college students experiencing homelessness or housing instability. Their building is located in West Oak Lane, near public transportation and offers a furnished single room occupancy unit with shared kitchen, bathrooms and common spaces. It requires a referral from your counselor or college representative and is available to currently enrolled students (minimum half-time) in good academic standing who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness between the ages of 18-26.

Valley Youth House 1500 Sansom St., 3rd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19102 Hours 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.

Where to Turn During COVID-19 Guide Project HOME created this resource for individuals experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia. If you see someone in Philadelphia experiencing homelessness who needs help, please call the 24-Hour Homeless Outreach Hotline at 215-232-1984 or 1-877-222-1984.

Vital Documents Toolkit for young adults entering a Homeless Shelter (PDF) This toolkit provides 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.

Utilities & bills

On March 6, 2020, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Chairman signed an emergency order prohibiting terminations by utilities that are under the PUC’s jurisdiction, including Electric, Natural Gas, Water, Wastewater, Telecommunication, Steam

For any bills, you need to pay, call them to see if you get your bills reduced or stopped temporarily. Be sure to state at the beginning that your income has been reduced due to the coronavirus crisis and you are unable to afford the current payments.

Do this for your water, electricity, gas, cell phone, internet provider, and any other utilities you may be paying.

During the cold months (October to January) you may qualify to get a reduction in your heating bill through LIHEAP.

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

Electric Bill Savings Program PECO and other electric companies in Pennsylvania offer budget plans that can help you save money throughout the year.

Gas Bill Savings Program Low income customers who qualify for CRP – PGW’s customer assistance program – get a smaller bill each month.

Water Bill Savings Program This application helps Philadelphians who are having trouble paying their water bills.

For additional housing resources, check out the Housing Section of the National COVID College Support Site.

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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