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Be sure to check back regularly to get our latest news updates.

To lead a fulfilled life, being healthy is about much more than just the physical. It involves your mental well-being, too. 

Central Penn Business Journal - Central Penn Business Journal has selected 45 women for its 2021 Women of Influence awards.

The award honors high-achieving women for their career accomplishments. The honorees are selected based on their professional experience, community involvement, leadership and sustained commitment to mentoring.

Circle of Excellence honorees are women of longstanding, notable success in the community who are leading the way for other women.

CPBJ added a new category this year, “Women to Watch,” which honors women leaders 35 or younger who demonstrate outstanding professional accomplishments, community involvement and commitment to positive change.

To be eligible for the awards, candidates must live or work in the central Pennsylvania area, which includes Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, and York counties.

“The 2021 Women of Influence honorees are extremely accomplished,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, group publisher of Central Penn Business Journal. “They are innovators, creators and mentors who inspire others with service to their professions and to their communities. “They mentor and pave the way for future generations of women leaders. Central Penn Business Journal is pleased to honor them.”

Republican Herald - Ombudsman is a Swedish word which means “citizen representative,” a somewhat ambiguous title for an important role. According to the dictionary, an ombudsman is a person who investigates and attempts to resolve complaints and problems between those receiving a service and those providing it, among other things. We all know someone directly or indirectly who has received long-term care of some sort, such as in a nursing home, personal care home, assisted living facility or adult daycare. A long-term care ombudsman is a trained individual who advocates on behalf of people who receive long-term care services. The state Department of Aging states that the mission of the Ombudsman Program is to “advocate for those who can’t, support those who can and ensure all long-term care consumers live with dignity and respect.” The Ombudsman Program includes volunteers who visit long-term care facilities to keep an eye out for residents’ well-being and concerns.

What does an Ombudsman do?

• Provides information to residents and family about rights, procedures and additional resources within the facility or community.

• Investigates concerns and works to resolve issues that may involve a resident.

• Offers education programs and carries out training for facility staff.

• Assists in the development of resident and family councils.

During the pandemic, this program has been suspended for the well-being of long-term care residents and of volunteers. However, the program is gearing up to resume, and many volunteers are needed. Training is required and is offered free of charge and online.

If you are interested in learning more, call Eileen Barlow at MidPenn Legal Services, 570-622-3931, ext. 3304, or email ebarlow@midpenn.org.

Central Penn Business Journal - Here’s how the eviction process works

Matthew Rich, an attorney with MidPenn Legal Services, recently gave a presentation on the landlord/tenant mediation process along with Jordan Cunningham, an attorney who represents landlords. The presentation included these basics about the eviction process:

1. Eviction Notice/Notice to Quit: It is a 10-day notice for nonpayment of rent and a 15-day notice for other breaches of a lease or the end of the lease term.
2. A complaint is filed with the Magisterial District Judge, MDJ.
3. A hearing is held before the MDJ within seven to 15 days.
4. The tenant has the right to appeal the MDJ’s judgment to the Court of Common Pleas. The tenant has 10 days from the date of the judgment to appeal and stop eviction. The tenant has 30 days from the date of the judgment to appeal only the money portion, but that does not stop the eviction.
5. The landlord does not physically evict the tenant. The eviction is performed by a constable.
6. If there isn’t an appeal, the landlord requests an Order for Possession, OFP, from the MDJ, and that can happen on the 11th day after the judgment is entered.
7. The MDJ issues the OFP, which is served by a constable.
8. The constable schedules an eviction to take place on the 11thday after the date the OFP is served.
9. The MDJ will often say that a tenant has “21 days to be out,” which is the 10-day appeal period, plus the 10-day OFP notice period, with execution on day 21.

Pennsylvania’s Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) is advising the public to stay vigilant against a recently reported phone scam.

The scam involves calls that “spoof” or mimic the AOPC’s telephone number. During the spoof call, those being targeted are told of alleged unpaid court fines and outstanding fees. Should the fees not be paid, the caller threatens to place the individual on the Pennsylvania sex offender registry.

The AOPC will never place calls or solicit payment by credit card, gift card, or any other means of electronic funds transfer for any reason.

Should you receive a phone call from a number or an individual claiming to be involved with or calling from the AOPC requesting money or payment of fines, fees or court costs, please do not provide any sensitive information or forms of payment of any kind.

Anyone receiving calls of this nature is encouraged to hang up immediately and contact state and/or local police as well as the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Bureau of Consumer Protection at (800) 441-2555 or scams@attorneygeneral.gov.

During the pandemic, millions of Americans have filed for unemployment benefits due to job loss and reduced work hours. Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic and fraudulently filing unemployment claims using stolen personal identity information.

If you receive a 1099-G tax form for unemployment benefits that you didn’t apply for or receive, you may be a victim of identity theft.

Federal Trade Commission - COVID-19 has thrown the economy into a tailspin. As people have been laid off, furloughed, or are working fewer hours, bills can pile up. This week, for Financial Literacy Month, we’re looking at ways to manage — and today, it’s all about dealing with debt. Here are some ideas to start regaining your financial footing when you have more month than money.

Gather your bills: Consider creating a budget so you get a picture of where your money comes from — and goes.
Ask for help: If you’re behind on payments, contact the companies and try to work out a new payment plan. Ask for lower payments or delayed due dates, and get changes in writing. Also, check for pandemic assistance programs.
Find out if your state or local government has programs that let you hold off on paying some bills right now.

WITF - Getting evicted can hurt you in a bunch of different ways. You don't have to tell that to 57-year-old Gregory Curry in Dothan, Ala. "I'll be honest with you, I was petrified by this situation," Curry says. "What I've had to go through over this last year."

Curry fell behind on rent after the furniture store where he was a salesman shut down due to COVID-19. His landlord filed an eviction case against him over the summer. Curry had nowhere to go. But there was no federal eviction moratorium in place at the time and the judge ordered him to leave. "They told me I had to be out," Curry says.

Curry's story is a window into what potentially millions more Americans may have to face if they can't catch up on back rent by the end of June — when the latest extension of a moratorium from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expires.

Harrisburg Magazine - For many, consulting a lawyer can be cost prohibitive, yet many people have common concerns without answers. To answer those kinds of questions, Dauphin County Library System, MidPenn Legal Services, and the Dauphin County Bar Association have partnered to present Lawyers in Libraries at 6 p.m. tomorrow (March 25).

It will be presented by Attorney Edward F. Spreha, Jr., a member of the pro bono program on “How To Restore Your Driver’s License” with a Q&A to follow. To register, go to the library’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DCLS.PA/photos/a.388662564796/10159210933349797/.

Future topics and dates include: Custody Conflicts on April 29, and PA Unemployment Compensation on May 27. Sessions are recorded. Previous topics included eviction, in which listeners learned that an eviction in Pennsylvania can never be expunged from the record for landlords to see.

The series was born out of last summer’s Riverside Chats, a series of outreach programs about Covid-related legal issues, according to Sandy Ballard of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. “When we did that, we realized that local libraries were actually a key tool to facilitate the sharing of information with the public — our community service frontline.”

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The pandemic has had dangerous effects on domestic abuse. Victims were cut off from resources and calls for help dropped significantly. However, many counties do not know the full scale of domestic violence in their communities—and that is a problem. A FOX43 Reveals investigation into domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic and years prior found gaps in data and reporting, making it difficult to determine whether domestic abuse has increased or decreased over the years. Many law enforcement agencies do not keep record of crimes specifically related to domestic violence. Without this data, counties are not able to provide a clear picture of domestic abuse in their communities. Part of the problem, law enforcement officials tell FOX43 Reveals, is that the Pennsylvania Crimes Code does not have statutes that are specific to domestic violence.

NPR - The nation's homeless population grew last year for the fourth year in a row. On a single night in January 2020, there were more than 580,000 individuals who were homeless in the United States, a 2% increase from the year before.

The numbers, released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Thursday, do not reflect the impact of the pandemic.

"And we know the pandemic has only made the homelessness crisis worse," HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a video message accompanying the report. She called the numbers "devastating" and said the nation has a "moral responsibility to end homelessness."

Among the report's more sobering findings: homelessness among veterans and families did not improve for the first time in many years.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - If you are one of the millions of people who have received stimulus payments or will soon receive another round of payments (also known as Economic Impact Payments or EIPs), there may be steps you can take to ensure you have the full benefit of those funds by protecting them from bank and credit union setoff if your account is overdrawn.

Background
Economic Impact Payments are meant to help individuals and families reduce the financial burden from the COVID-19 pandemic. You may get an EIP via direct deposit, check, or prepaid debit card. Banks and credit unions may employ a variety of methods to ensure their customers have access to the full value of their EIP funds, even if their accounts are overdrawn due to fees or purchases. Some states have even taken action to prohibit financial institutions from using EIPs to cover overdrawn account balances.

Let’s say you get an email about a charge to your credit card for something you aren’t expecting or don’t want. Your first instinct may be to immediately call the company or respond to the email and to stop the payment. Scammers know that, and are taking advantage of it in a new phishing scheme.

People tell us they’re getting emails that look like they’re from Norton, a company that sells antivirus and anti-malware software. (Tip: the emails are NOT from Norton.) The emails say you’ve been (or are about to be) charged for a Norton product — maybe an auto renewal or new order. If this is a mistake, the email says, you should call immediately. (Tip: don’t.)

In many abusive relationships the abuser controls the household’s money and finances. Although the survivor may have agreed to the filing of the tax return that the COVID relief payment was based upon, the abuser may have later refused to pay over the survivor’s share of the payment or the survivor cannot get the payment from the abuser without risking harm or abuse. In other situations, survivors may not have seen or signed the tax return that the COVID relief payment was based upon, or they were forced to sign the return under threats or duress. IRS procedures outline a path for relief for survivors who believe their COVID relief payments were issued based on a tax return that was fraudulent, forged, or signed by the survivor under duress. Unfortunately, the IRS has not created procedures for allowing a survivor to receive the Recovery Rebate Credit when both spouses agreed to file a married-filing-joint return, but the abusive spouse refused to pay over the survivor’s share of the COVID relief payment. Advocates for survivors of domestic violence have been working on this issue and continue to do so in an effort to find relief for survivors in this situation.

The Philadelphia Inquirer - Pennsylvania will allow utilities to resume normal service shutoffs for nonpaying customers after March 31, ending a coronavirus moratorium that utilities said had contributed to a massive growth of unpaid bills.

Citing the state’s improved economic outlook and the expected influx of aid under the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday voted to allow the resumption of service terminations at the end of the month, though it added some protections for low-income customers.

Applications are now open for Centre County’s new Emergency Rental Assistance Program to provide financial assistance to local residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Statecollege.com - As of Monday, county residents can apply for the program through COMPASS, the online tool for Pennsylvania health and human services programs. The Office of Adult Services is in the process of making paper applications and application assistance hubs available throughout Centre County

Centre County has been approved for up to $10.6 million in federal funds allocated through the commonwealth.

HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The PA State Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced Tuesday that $552.7 million would be given to counties across PA for rental and utility assistance for residents impacted by COVID-19. Households with one or more members who qualified for unemployment, lost income, saw heavy costs or otherwise had some sort of hardship due to COVID-19, are eligible for assistance.

Households within a certain income range are also eligible. The treasury describes it as, “Pennsylvanians with incomes up to 80% of the area median income, for their household.”

Pennlive.com - The Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) on Thursday presented its County Bar Recognition Awards virtually to the Dauphin County Bar Association during the 55th Annual Seminar of the Conference of County Bar Leaders.

Recognized for its virtual pro bono clinics, RiverFront Chats and eviction mediation programs, the Dauphin County Bar Association is one of 20 local bar associations in Pennsylvania honored this year for sponsoring projects that improve the legal profession, justice system or community, according to a press release. The awards are presented annually by the PBA.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - A new report says student homelessness has increased in Pennsylvania in recent years, but evidence exists that the number of students experiencing homelessness in the state remains under-counted.

The report from Research for Action, a Philadelphia-based, nonprofit education research organization, also raised concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic will deepen the problem.

Anna Shaw-Amoah, a policy associate with RFA who authored the report, said state and local officials must act quickly to provide support to students experiencing homelessness.

“There’s already many years of evidence showing that students experiencing homelessness are not being identified and therefore are not receiving the services that would help them to have an equal educational experience to that of their peers,” Ms. Shaw-Amoah said. “Now in the midst of COVID, there is so much evidence showing that there are likely going to be more students and families in temporary housing.”

LANCASTER, Pa. — Pennsylvania had an unusual problem in 2020. It had $150 million in emergency funds for rent relief—and a whole lot of trouble spending it. FOX43 Reveals what happened to all of that money and how some county agencies are now creating their own programs for rental assistance. Boxes of paperwork and applications from the state’s previous rent relief program once flooded offices at the Lancaster County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities. Staff scrambled to get the money into tenants’ hands before a statewide deadline.

This time around, a countywide program will set the parameters for rental assistance in Lancaster County. It is one of 18 counties in Pennsylvania to receive direct federal funding for rent relief, giving them the ability to create their own locally-driven programs.

“We know our community the best. We know the needs in our community. We have the partnerships and relationships to be able to put this money out much more efficiently and effectively,” said County Commissioner Ray D’Agostino.

Lancaster County received $16.2 million dollars from the federal government for rent relief and is expecting more aid from the state. The program is on track to launch online applications March 1, pending guidelines from the U.S. Treasury Department. The program’s start date could be delayed if those guidelines are not released in about a week or two.

The Inspector General for the Social Security Administration (SSA), Gail S. Ennis, is designating Thursday, March 4, 2021 as the second annual National “Slam the Scam” Day, to raise public awareness of government imposter telephone scams, which continue to spread across the United States. This is part of National Consumer Protection Week, February 28 – March 6.

Last year, we received over 718,000 reports of Social Security-related telephone scams—with a total of $44.8 million reported lost. Victims who lost money reported an average loss of $5,800. On National “Slam the Scam” Day, we will work to spread the word far and wide about these scams—and encourage people to warn their friends and family to just Hang Up!

Think you make too little money to file a federal income tax return? Life circumstances changed in the last year? Every year taxpayers fail to claim all of their federal tax credits. Come learn about the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and other ways to be a smart taxpayer.” This webinar will be conducted by MidPenn Attorney Evangeline Wright. Evangeline Wright is an attorney with MidPenn Legal Services’ Rural Tax Advocacy Project. She provides education and representation in federal tax matters to eligible individuals in central Pennsylvania.  This webinar is free and open to the public.  Registration is required. https://midpenn-org.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_eor5HyxWTsORFXVvI5TITA

York Daily Record - Before her 1-year-old son contracted the novel coronavirus, Brittany Rasnake was already behind on bills.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Rasnake said, she left her factory job to take care of him when his daycare closed. She went on unemployment. Eventually, she said, she was able to pay her rent for October and November.

With doctor’s orders to quarantine, that meant she’d have to miss time from her new job at a feed mill in East Berlin.

“I was basically playing catch-up on everything,” said Rasnake, 26, who also delivers groceries part-time on the side.

But after falling behind again on rent for December, her landlord at York Village Apartments in Penn Township filed for eviction.

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The CDC recently extended the federal eviction moratorium through the end of January, protecting tenants struggling to make housing payments due to COVID-19. However, tenants may still face housing challenges, and when the moratorium expires, they may face speedy eviction processes.

Brittany Mellinger, director of the Housing Equality & Equity Institute at Tabor/LHOP, explains that landlords are able to begin the eviction process during the moratorium. “So this means they can be much closer to the point of eviction, rather than having to start at step one” when it expires, she says.

Additionally, while the moratorium is in place, tenants can still be removed from housing for breeches of their lease, termination of their lease when the contract expires, or failing to meet all the criteria of the eviction moratorium.

Joining forces to stop income scams
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December 14, 2020
by Rosario Méndez
Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
Today, the FTC joined forces with numerous federal, state, and local government partners in Operation Income Illusion, an effort to fight income scams and help people recognize and avoid them. With record unemployment and the ongoing financial impact of the pandemic, many people are looking to make ends meet — and scammers are pitching income scams with false promises of success and financial security.

In a typical pitch, scammers will say that you can make a lot of money, for example, working from home with little time and effort, or starting your own online business. But those promises of big money are all an income illusion. In fact, in the first nine months of 2020 alone, people reported to the FTC that they lost at least $150 million. The total amount of alleged injury for the FTC cases announced today is over $1 billion. Income scams hit people hard.

Harrisburg, PA - Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today announced that DHS is altering payment schedules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for the month of December to allow all benefits to be issued without risk of delay in case of a federal government shutdown. SNAP is a federally funded program and the federal government is currently funded through December 11, 2020.

“SNAP is a critical resource for the nearly 1.9 million Pennsylvanians who use it to purchase fresh food and groceries for themselves and their families. Particularly as Pennsylvania and our nation are in the midst of a growing public health crisis, we cannot risk a lapse in benefits that help meet this most basic, essential need,” said Secretary Miller. “Some SNAP recipients may receive their monthly benefit and emergency allotments earlier than usual, but we need Pennsylvanians to know that this is not in error or an additional payment. This is their normal December payment, and there will be no additional payment.”

Law 360 - The coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn it caused sparked a massive spike in demand for legal aid services from America's most marginalized communities, leaving a field already under-resourced facing even greater strain in 2020.

On Giving Tuesday, every contribution counts, whether monetarily or otherwise. Check out these ways that you can participate in Giving Tuesday 2020 and beyond.

Veterans and imposter scams
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November 23, 2020
by Carol Kando-Pineda
Attorney, FTC, Division of Consumer & Business Education
During the past four years, the FTC logged more than 378,000 reports from veterans — and nearly 161,000 were fraud-related. More than 24,000 of those reported a loss (with total losses of $205 million). Veterans had a median loss of $755, compared to active duty servicemembers who reported a median loss of $500 over the same period.

For both veterans and active duty personnel, imposter scams were among the top five scams causing a loss. Imposters pretend to be someone you trust to try to convince you to send them money. These scammers use all kinds of angles to make their stories sound believable. Here are some tips (and a few videos) that talk about how to spot an imposter scam.

Spotlight PA - Despite a federal eviction ban, whether or not families get kicked out often comes down to where they live, and which judge happens to hear their case. Under an order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tenants who qualify cannot be evicted if they sign a declaration form and send it to their landlord. But in Pennsylvania, a Spotlight PA investigation found an inconsistent system of justice across the 67 counties, leaving many vulnerable residents without the protections they were promised. All told, despite the federal order, whether or not families get kicked out of their homes often comes down to where they live, and which judge happens to hear their case.

Morning Call - Pennsylvania residents who apply for pandemic unemployment assistance will be asked to work with an outside company to verify their identity as part of an ongoing effort to combat fraud, state officials said Tuesday.

The state Department of Labor & Industry earlier this month announced it contracted with the security firm ID.me to develop a more stringent identity verification process for PUA applicants.

Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak said applicants for PUA will now receive a notification that they must contact ID.me to verify their identities before payments are made. After the verification process is complete, payments may be released.

Pennsylvania officials said they halted payments to new applicants Sept. 21 after flagging a surge in suspected fraudulent applications while they worked to beef up identification checks.

A group of housing rights advocates were distributing info to tenants facing an eviction hearing at Magisterial District Court 12-1-01 in Susquehanna Township on Wednesday.

Pennlive.com - The group, Greater Harrisburg Area Tenants United, was out to ensure that those tenants facing eviction know their rights – and that thanks to federal action they might be able to protect themselves from eviction if they have been struggling to make rent. “We’re here today to help keep tenants in their home this winter,” said Veronica Adams, a member of Greater Harrisburg Area Tenants United. “About 20 evictions are happening here at this court today, and we’re going to try to give them the CDC forms that allows them to stay in their homes until the end of December.”

On Sept. 1, the Center for Disease Control announced a temporary halt nationwide on evictions due to failure by the tenants to pay rent. The moratorium on such evictions was to last through the end of 2020 and was designed to protect those financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic from suddenly finding themselves homeless – and at even higher risk of catching and spreading COVID-19.

FTC - Nobody likes getting debt collection calls. But have you ever gotten one for a debt you already paid — or you know isn’t yours? Or have you been threatened and harassed by a debt collector until you paid up? If so, we want you to know how to protect yourself.

Today, in partnership with federal and state law enforcement partners, the FTC announces Operation Corrupt Collector, a federal-state law enforcement sweep against fake and abusive debt collectors. The operation includes five FTC actions, with two new cases announced today.

PITTSBURGH — The federal government announced a moratorium on evictions nationwide, but there is plenty of confusion over how it applies to Pennsylvania, if it even does at all. Pa.'s eviction moratorium ended Aug. 31, but the CDC announced it would extend a “nationwide” eviction ban through the end of the year. The new federal moratorium requires renters to make under $99,000 per year, have a loss of wages due to the pandemic and exhaust all other resources for assistance.

Social Security Administration - The most effective way to defeat scammers is to know how to identify scams. You should just hang up on any call you’re uncertain of and ignore suspicious emails. Scammers are always finding new ways to steal your money and personal information by exploiting your fears.

One common tactic scammers use is posing as federal agents and other law enforcement. They may claim your Social Security number is linked to a crime. They may even threaten to arrest you if you do not comply with their instructions. Just hang up.

WATERTOWN — The unsolicited call opens with, “This is an apology ...”

An apology from a stranger with a robot-sounding voice should be the first hint that the call is a scam. But the voice continues, saying they’re from the local utility service and that the customer being called has been overcharged and that a rebate is in order. The customer is instructed to call a number to claim those funds.

Such calls have been circulating to some Watertown-area households and to other areas like Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission issued a warning in June about the “Questionable rebate check robocalls from retail suppliers.”

Pennsylvania Capital-Star - Bill Christian had a sense of foreboding when Pennsylvania officials moved to prevent evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, first with a series of emergency orders and then with a flawed rental assistance program from the legislature.

“I thought, ‘that sounds wonderful, but eventually this bill is going to come due,’” said Christian, who runs Bethesda Mission, a shelter and recovery center for men experiencing homelessness in Harrisburg. “This was the proverbial kicking the can down the road.”

The pent-up disruption to Pennsylvania’s housing market is poised to burst on Tuesday, when courts will be allowed to receive new eviction claims for the first time in six months.

New York Times - The safety net is starting to unravel.

At the end of the month, struggling Americans could lose the extra $600 per week they’ve been receiving in unemployment insurance. Some eviction protections are already expiring.

And as people scramble to afford basic needs, hunger looms.

Tens of millions of Americans are in danger. According to Census Bureau Pulse Survey data released this week, 10.8 percent of American adults are experiencing some level of food insecurity. Louisiana, Nevada and Ohio had the highest rates: 17 to 18 percent. Food lines have been a feature of newspaper front pages and home pages for months now.

And yet there is a program that may be able to help millions of struggling Americans. One that was underused even before the coronavirus crisis: food stamps, or as they are known in most places now, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

New York Times - If you have a mortgage and can’t afford to pay it because of fallout from the coronavirus, you may be able to push off your payments for several months, or even into next year. But if you’re struggling to pay your rent, your options are probably much more limited.

YourErie.com - Financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic still may have you in a rut when it comes to paying rent. Maybe you’ve missed the last few payments and you’re now fearing eviction.

We asked, are landlords able to proceed with this action during the pandemic when so many are struggling? Hear the explanations by Attorney Matt Rich on the eviction moratoriums.

If you know you’re not headed for eviction but still need to get caught up on payments, financial options are becoming available to struggling renters and those unemployed. Remember to always communicate with your property manager or landlord and diligently look for payment solutions.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Friday is the last day a statewide, temporary halt on evictions is in effect — and advocates fear that when the moratorium ends, it could bring a wave of evictions, putting people out of their homes amid the still-ongoing pandemic. Tenants in some federally-subsidized properties are protected until July 25.

“We're really expecting a flood of these [eviction filings],” said Megan Stanley, director of Pittsburgh's Commission on Human Relations, based on trends in past court filings.

Housing advocates are particularly concerned because evictions can result in a host of problems: tenants can wind up being homeless, as well as unable to find stable housing in the future because of the eviction filing against them.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Renters who were financially impacted by the economic slowdown during the COVID-19 pandemic are able to access applications for rent relief, according to a release.

Starting June, 20, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency will be accepting applications via their website until Sept. 30.

NBC News - Sada Jones anxiously paces inside her apartment every time she catches a glimpse of her building’s maintenance workers through a damaged glass patio door half boarded up with scrap wood that she says her landlord refuses to repair. Jones, 23, a hotel cook, has been unable to make rent payments on her New Orleans-area apartment since being furloughed on March 19 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, she alleges, her landlord began using aggressive tactics to force her out, including cutting off her utilities and sending maintenance workers to demand she leave.

Law 360 - COVID-19 is not only a health crisis. It is also a legal aid crisis. A huge justice gap existed well before COVID-19 — with over 80% of people at or near the poverty line having at least one unmet legal need. COVID-19 widened the gap. COVID-19 disrupted the ability of legal aid providers to serve those who needed help before the pandemic. It also created a whole new set of legal needs — and people who need but cannot afford legal help — with its tremendous impact on people's families, jobs, health and school.

Even amid the COVID-19 crisis, however, there is reason for hope. Crisis brings opportunity. This is true with COVID-19. The legal community just needs to harness the opportunity COVID-19 presents for enhancing and expanding legal aid.

The Spokesman-Review - Most of us understand that the coronavirus presents a health crisis, an economic crisis and a social crisis. But for those at the bottom of the economic scale, it could also turn into a legal crisis. People denied unemployment insurance, or faced with eviction after the eviction ban ends, or buried in debt when garnishments resume, or trapped in the web of court proceedings after being the victim of domestic violence – all may find themselves in need of a lawyer they cannot afford. All may find themselves facing supercharged versions of the poverty-related challenges that afflict people who have no access to legal aid for civil procedures.

Capital-Star Op-Ed Contributor- Before COVID-19, millions of Pennsylvanians struggled to get by each month. Across the Commonwealth, people face barriers to employment or have severe disabilities that keep them from working.

Families face eviction, causing medical problems for children, including asthma and behavioral health issues, and leaving them at greater risk. Senior citizens lack running water and heat in their homes, leaving them vulnerable. These things happen every day, even in the best of times.

These are not the best of times.

COVID-19 and the necessary mitigation measures designed to protect public health have been a one-two punch of devastation for vulnerable households. Many people have lost their jobs and income, making it impossible for them to pay their rent or mortgage. Frontline service workers are risking their health, although many cannot access medical care because of a lack of insurance. Families in crisis are struggling to stay afloat.

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf has amended an order that bans foreclosures and evictions until July 10.

The updated text now makes clear that only proceedings related to financial harm caused by the coronavirus pandemic are halted, while others can continue as normal.

Pennlive.com - “I am protecting housing for Pennsylvanians who may be facing economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Wolf said in a statement.

“My order will not affect proceedings for other issues, such as property damage or illegal activity. I encourage all Pennsylvanians to continue abiding by the terms of their lease or mortgage.”

York Dispatch -Some of York County's 19 magisterial district judges have partially resumed landlord-tenant eviction cases, but they are taking different approaches — and none is accepting any new cases until mid July.

That's because even though the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's order barring tenant evictions for financial reasons amid the COVID-19 pandemic expired on May 11, Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive order May 7 stating that no new landlord-tenant cases can be filed until July 10.

Three York County judges, as well as two local attorneys who regularly train district magisterial district judges on landlord-tenant issues, agree that because Wolf's order failed to address landlord-tenant cases filed prior to May 11, at least some of those cases can now move forward.

Pennsylvania Capital Star - More than 1.86 million Pennsylvanians who receive federal food assistance may soon be able to get groceries delivered to their doors, the state’s human services chief confirmed Tuesday.

Officials in the state Department of Human Services said Pennsylvania has been accepted into a federal pilot program that allows people enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to use their monthly benefits allowance to pay for groceries online.

Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller told reporters Tuesday that the state is still finalizing a timeline to roll out the program, after receiving word late Monday that federal regulators accepted their application to join.

InsideAlerts - With jobless claims topping an unprecedented 30 million and counting, nearly half of American workers may be unemployed by mid-May.

We are already in a recession; the only uncertainty is how bad it will get — and how long it will last.

Meanwhile, one group of workers who were facing a permanent recession long before COVID-19 is those facing the Scarlet Letter of a criminal record. Indeed, heading into the pandemic, formerly incarcerated people were already facing a 27 percent unemployment rate, higher than any U.S. unemployment rate including during the Great Depression.

While felony records carry perhaps the greatest stigma, any record — including misdemeanors and even charges that were dropped — can be a long-term roadblock to employment, since nearly nine in 10 U.S. employers now use background checks. People with records are half as likely to get a callback or job offer as a result.

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