WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A federal and state-run program is up and running for people struggling to pay their rent.

Almost 2 years later people are still feeling the hardships of the pandemic with many who can’t pay the rent.

“The need for housing assistance is really great, as individuals’ may not have been able to get back to the employment they had before,” Rachelle Abbott, Chief Operations and Planning Office, Step, Inc.

ERAP or the Emergency Rental Assistance Program started last year to help residents affected by COVID pay their rent.

“It can pay up to 15 months of rental assistance. That is specifically for rears, which is a back rent or forward rent and then there’s also utilities,” said Abbott.

There’s an 18-month maximum for people to use the program. Since it started, they’ve had 2,300 applications and Abbott says the need continues to grow.

“The program has really had a constant influx of applications since the beginning and we don’t see the kind of stopping of those applications coming in,” Abbott said.

The application process is quick, simple, and can be done right on your phone.

“It’s probably a few weeks between an application and disbursement of funds,” Abbott explained.

However, this program is temporary. Those enrolled will work on goal plans and employment options so they can get back on their feet.

“Family navigators really support those families to really kind of move them ahead and help them get the support that is needed so that they can be self-sufficient,” Abbott said.

To learn more about ERAP and how to apply click here.