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Articles

Rental Assistance is Needed in Erie

This article first appeared in the Opinion section of the Erie Times-News on June 25, 2021 by Theresa Abbey CPSS & CRS MHA; Peer Support Team Leader

As a certified peer specialist serving dual diagnosed individuals with substance abuse and mental health difficulties, I help people who are working to rebuild their lives for the better under challenging circumstances. Many of my peers have low-income or are reliant on a very small amount of public benefits. They must choose between buying enough food for their household and paying for needed health care services.

Among other important actions our government should take, it is time our elected leaders take action to support rental assistance. Pandemic aside, people in Erie need help. Too many people in Erie don’t have the money to buy food, pay rent or pay for the health care they need. Benefits from Social Security, disability and food stamps are not enough to cover these basic costs. We need Pennsylvania to create new emergency rental assistance using funds from the American Rescue Plan. Rental assistance should provide support for case management, administration costs and rent.

Before I got to where I am today, I experienced housing instability. I remember how hard it was to make rent payments. My family and I had to move frequently. We even became homeless at one point. It took a long time to get on the list for housing support because the backlog was very large. I know firsthand how important more funding for housing support programs would be. It would mean the difference between not knowing where one will stay on a given night to having a place to rest and call home. Elected officials in Harrisburg should support rental assistance without delay.

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