SCRANTON, Pa. — You may have noticed billboards popping up around the Electric City. They advertise a program aiming to help Scranton residents who were financially impacted by the pandemic.
Money is available to people who may have fallen behind on paying their mortgages, rent, or utility bills.
"We want people to be able to be made whole, to stay in their home. It's beneficial for the landlords as well because, you know, they haven't been receiving rent as time went on, and the utility companies," said Eileen Cipriani, who runs the Office of Economic and Community Development in the city of Scranton.
The office has set aside about $1.1 million of federal pandemic relief money to go directly to residents. About half of the money has been distributed since the spring.
Both renters and homeowners can apply. NeighborWorks of NEPA is working as a middle man between homeowners and mortgage companies.
"A lot of people who have applied, they actually struggled last year, and they already worked out options with their mortgage company, and they didn't realize they could still benefit from programs like this to help with some of those backed-up payments that created balloon payments," explained Pamela Anslinger with NeighborWorks of NEPA.
So far, more than 100 people have reached out or received help from the program, many of those in recent weeks since extra unemployment payments ended.
"With unemployment running out, there's no reason, if you have not been struggling, that you move forward going into the unknown and not knowing there's something to support you through future payments," Anslinger said.
To be eligible for the rent or mortgage assistance, you first have to be a resident of Scranton. You also have to provide income and lease or mortgage documents.