Housing and Food Assistance

I need access to food assistance

In response to the COVID-19 economic crisis, Congress increased funding for food assistance programs across the United States.  This includes an additional $15.5 billion in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to ensure more Americans, including seniors and children, receive the food they need.

Congress also provided $8.8 billion in additional funding for Child Nutrition Programs, such as the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program to ensure children receive meals while school is not in session, $850 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) so food banks can continue to assist those Americans most in need, and an additional $500 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) to support low-income pregnant women or mothers with young children.

Congress also authorized and USDA continues to approve waivers and added flexibilities to nutrition assistance programs, in order to expand access during this public health emergency.  An updated list of the waivers and flexibilities that have been approved for Pennsylvania is available here: https://www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/pandemic/covid-19/pennsylvania#cn


Direct Assistance Resources – National

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)https://www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/pandemic

National Hunger Hotline: The hotline can be reached at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (for Spanish) from Monday through Friday (7 A.M. to 10 P.M. ET) https://www.fns.usda.gov/partnerships/national-hunger-clearinghouse


Direct Assistance Resources – Pennsylvania


Food Access: Contact the following Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania member food banks to find out about food assistance services being offered in your county:


I’m having trouble paying my bills

Banks and lenders have been encouraged to provide assistance to struggling borrowers during these unprecedented economic conditions.  If you are having difficulty paying any bill, you should contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss options.

Pennsylvania will receive over $15 million in additional funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help low-income households with their energy bills, and over $112 million in Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) to help find stable housing accommodations for low-income or homeless individuals.


I cannot pay my rent

Congress provided protections for renters who have trouble paying rent if they live in a property that has a federal subsidy or federally-backed loan.  Owners of these properties cannot file evictions or charge fees for nonpayment of rent for 120 days following enactment of the bill, and cannot issue a renter a notice to leave the property before 150 days after enactment.  After this period, renters will be responsible for making payments and getting back on track, so they should continue to make payments if they’re financially able to do so.  Renters who receive housing subsidies, such as public housing or Section 8, who have had their incomes fall should recertify their incomes with their public housing agency or property owner because it may lower the rent they owe.  Find the contact information for your local Pennsylvania housing authority here.


I cannot pay my mortgage

If you are unable to pay your mortgage, you should contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss your options.

Recently enacted legislation prohibits foreclosures on all federally-backed mortgage loans for a 60-day period beginning on March 18.  It also provided up to 180 days of forbearance for borrowers of a federally-backed mortgage loan who have experienced a financial hardship related to the COVID-19 emergency, as well as a 120 day moratorium on evictions.

The legislation also provides up to 90 days of forbearance for multifamily borrowers with a federally backed multifamily mortgage loan who have experienced a financial hardship.

Congress also increased funding for affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs by more than $7 billion to help low-income and working-class Americans avoid evictions and minimize impacts of employment loss, childcare, or other unforeseen circumstances.

Last Updated: April 1, 2020