In this month’s column, Rep. Jake Wheatley explains the implications of Gov. Tom Wolf recently signing S.B. 109 into law.

Photo: Office of Rep. Wheatley

It’s almost hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since the pandemic made its arrival in our state and country, and I know so many of you are still struggling and hurting. Please know my team and I are doing all we can to push for additional resources and support to help residents and local businesses stay afloat.

To that end, I have some good news to share with you. Governor Tom Wolf recently signed S.B. 109 into law, which will be good news for our communities. It will provide $912 million in COVID-19 relief, including $570 million for rent and utility assistance, $145 million to help our local bars and restaurants recover, and $197 million in education relief for career and technical centers, non-public schools, community colleges, and other vital education providers. Allegheny County will receive nearly $80 million for rent and utility relief for residents and another $13.7 million for hospitality industry relief.

For homeowners, the Biden administration announced an expansion of forbearance and foreclosure relief programs that were due to expire at the end of March. The foreclosure moratorium and the mortgage payment forbearance programs have been extended to June 30, 2021. In addition, the administration has also provided up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance, in three-month increments, for borrowers who entered forbearance on or before June 30 of this year.

If you’re looking for information and resources related to the COVID-19 vaccine, Allegheny County has set up a way to receive COVID-19 vaccine alerts via their website. You can register to receive these and other alerts on your mobile phone, home phone, or by email.

As I continue to work with my colleagues in the House to provide vital help and resources through this ongoing pandemic, I also wanted to remind you about the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program for 2020. This program is open to residents 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, and residents 18 or older with a disability. In order to quality, homeowners must have a household income of $35,000 or less, and renters can qualify if their household income is $15,000 or less. Applicants only have to count half of their Social Security, Supplemental Security, or federal Railroad Retirement Tier I benefits toward that income limit.Rest assured that I will continue to advocate for each of you in Harrisburg for the help and support you need and deserve, now and beyond the current pandemic. Please reach out to The People’s Office if you need help or have questions about any state-related program or service by calling 412-471-7760 or emailing me at jwheatley@pahouse.net.

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