Help is available with internet access, rent payments

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We hear about the debates going on in Washington DC about the programs and their relevance or their real ability to be used.

There are two programs currently in effect offered by the federal government with the assistance of local agencies to obtain the services for which the money provided was designated.

School districts promoted the first curriculum and provided information, however, sometimes these pieces of information go unnoticed with all that goes on in busy lives.

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The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) offers eligible households $30 per month off their internet bills through participating companies. Twenty major internet service providers, including United Way partners Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, participate in the program and offer ACP-eligible households a high-speed internet package for up to $30 per month. If eligible families combine their ACP benefit with one of these internet packages, they have the option of receiving high-speed internet for free.

There are three different ways to qualify for CPA benefits, and households are eligible if they meet one of three listed conditions: their income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines or if they meet the eligibility requirements for a participant’s existing Internet program for low-income broadband service providers.

The final qualification is for a household member to participate in one of the following programs: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, Medicaid, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women , Infants and Children (WIC), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including in schools from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision, Federal Pell Grant (received in current award year)., Lifeline, certain Tribal Assistance Programs, including General Assistance from the Bureau of families, Head Start (only households meeting the income qualification standard), Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF) and Food Distribution Program on Indian reservations.

In today’s economy, saving money on any expense can make a big difference to a household or family. If any of these programs apply to you, it would be beneficial to follow up by visiting this website: whitehouse.gov/getinternet/ or call the Pocono Mountains United Way office at: 570-517-3953 for assistance.

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Assistance to local tenants

The previously mentioned program is one that meets a real need, but often there is one that is even greater, housing. There is currently a program available to residents called the Emergency Rent Assistance Program. To date, since the federal government implemented the program in light of the COVID emergency, over 1,600 households, or more than 4,600 local residents, have been assisted.

The program started in May 2021, but will end soon, and funds are still available to help eligible residents facing homelessness or utility cuts. The program offers options for tenants or owners.

The program offers support options for filing. You can contact the program coordinator for Monroe County at: [email protected] or call 570-243-6677. Or you can receive help through Pocono Mountains United Way by contacting Todd Nemura, ERAP Program Director – Pocono Mountains United Way, directly at 570-243-6689. Either agency can help you determine your eligibility and help you apply for assistance. As with everything, there is a requirement for documentation required with a submission. Need to work with a computer, don’t forget that your local libraries are there for this help too!

For more resources on the housing crisis, go to bit.ly/3x6tIsH.

Crisis resources:Need housing assistance in Northeast Pennsylvania? Check out these available resources

– Debbie Kulick writes a weekly column for the Pocono Record and Tri-County Independent. She is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as an EMT.

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