Frequently Asked Questions

We know the application process can be confusing, so we are answering some commonly asked questions. Please contact ACTION-Housing at 412-248-0021 or email ACTION-Housing if your question isn’t answered here.

Updated: April 20, 2021

What do I have to submit with my application?
You will have to show proof of income and financial impacts due to COVID-19. It will be helpful to gather these documents before you start the application:

  • Unemployment determination letter
  • Lease agreement
  • Utility bills
  • Proof of income, like W2 forms, award letters, or paystubs
  • Proof of financial hardship, loss of income, or increased expenses due to COVID-19

What if I do not have a lease?
That’s ok, there are other ways to show where you live like:

  • An oral lease agreement. We’ve included a simple form in the application for you and your landlord to sign.
  • A utility bill.
  • Something to show a rental payment like a bank statement or check stub.

How do I show that someone I live with is at risk of becoming homeless?
You can include a past utility bill or rent or eviction notice. If you have a lease and you can’t pay your rent as outlined in the lease, you can indicate that on your application as well. The YWCA is also contacting renters who apply and can give you a form that you can complete and upload.

What utilities can I get help paying?
Funding to help pay utilities will be available soon. If you need help paying any of the following utility bills, please complete that part of the application now and someone from Dollar Energy Fund will contact you:

  • Electricity
  • Gas or fuel oil
  • Sewage
  • Trash removal
  • Water

Do I have to be late on rent or utilities to get assistance?
No. You can apply to get money to make future payments if you are not able to afford them now.

Utilities are paid to my landlord through my lease – can I get assistance with that?
Your utilities can be paid as part of your rent if you are responsible for reimbursing your landlord for utilities and this is stated in your lease. Make sure you submit that portion of your lease with your application and any bills from your landlord if the utilities are not a flat fee.

Can I get help paying my mortgage?
No, unfortunately, financial assistance is for rent and utilities in rental properties only. If you cannot pay your mortgage, please call your lender, and let them know about your situation. Read more here: What to do if you can’t pay your mortgage.

Can I get rental assistance if I had past due rent before March 13, 2020?
No. March 13, 2020, was the date of the disaster declaration due to COVID-19, which is why we are using that date.

How can I show my income?
You can show your income in one of two ways:

  1. 2020 Yearly Income
    Show your yearly income from 2020 using documents like an IRS 1040 form or a W2. If you do this, you will NOT need to recertify your income if you get on-going emergency rental assistance (payments after your first payment is made).
  2. Current Income
    Verify your current income by providing two months of your most recent income. This could include two months of current pay stubs, an award letter from the Social Security Office, welfare office or a letter from your employer. If you verify your income this way, you WILL need to recertify your income every three months if you get on-going emergency rental assistance (payments after your first payment is made)

Regardless of the method you choose, you will need to show documentation of gross (pre-tax) income. Acceptable forms include, but are not limited to:

  • IRS Form 1040 for 2020 Tax Year
  • W-2 Form for 2020 Tax Year
  • Pay stubs.
  • Letter from your employer with pay rate and hours worked.
  • Award letter from Social Security Administration, Veterans Administration, PA Department of Labor and Industry, PA Department of Human Services, or other government agencies that show recurring income from any public benefit program.
  • Award letters for pension or retirement benefits

How do I show that my income is below 80% of the Area Median Income?
You can provide documentation that shows you are getting a public benefit. Or, if your household income has already been verified to be at or below 80% of the Area Median Income in connection with another government assistance program, you can use that determination letter as long the determination was made on or after January 1, 2020.

Is there a limit to how much rent money I can get?
You can get up to 12 months’ rent per household. You will need to recertify your continued eligibility for the program every three months though. In certain circumstances, you may receive up to 15 months of assistance if you still qualify and funding is still available.

Can I get my first month’s rent and my security deposit for a new apartment through Allegheny County Emergency Rental Assistance?
No. But you can get help by contacting the Allegheny Link at 866-730-2368 or AlleghenyLink@ AlleghenyCounty.us. If you owe your first month’s rent within 15 days of applying, have a lease in place, and are unable to pay it, this program can potentially assist with the first month’s rent if you qualify.

Can I still apply if I live in public housing or Section 8 housing?
Yes. If emergency rental assistance funds are not applied to costs that will be paid by other funding (like Housing Choice Voucher or Public Housing, or Project-Based Rental Assistance), we can assist with your portion of the rent.

Where can I get rental assistance if I don’t live in Allegheny County? 
There are options if you live in another county. Some counties are using the PA COMPASS tool for their online application process. Find your county and contact information on this list.

If I am denied rental assistance, how can I appeal?
You will be able to appeal any decision to deny your financial assistance by sending an email or calling the phone number included in the letter you will receive from us.

What if my phone number or other contact changes?
No problem. Log back into the application with the username and password you created and update it.

How do I log back into the application?
By using this link: https://acdhscrrp.alleghenycounty.us/CITIZEN

After I’ve selected the months I need rent money for and submitted my application, can I go back in and change those?
While you can’t change the months in the application after you submit it, someone will be contacting you to verify the information. Let them know then.

I’m a landlord with more than one tenant and I’m submitting multiple applications. Is there a way I can submit them all at once?
Unfortunately no. You will need to submit them individually.

Does providing a W2 eliminate the need to recertify at some stage. Could you please elaborate on certifications and how they work if approved?
2020 tax forms can expedite the recertification required every three months. Preferred documentation and will allow future payments to happen faster.

If there is a dispute between a tenant (renter) and landlord about what is owed, how is that handled?
We compare the amounts that the tenant and landlord claim is owed and then review the lease. We cannot mediate disputes, but we will do our best to pay what both parties agree is owed. If you need mediation assistance, contact Just Mediation Pittsburgh at https://www.justmediationpgh.org/ or 412-228-0730.

I do not have a Social Security number. Can I still apply?
Absolutely! A Social Security number is requested in the application, but not required.

Is citizenship required for this program?
No, citizenship status is not a factor.

I do not have pay stubs because I only get paid in cash. How can I show my salary and hours worked?
You can submit something like a written statement from a manager or supervisor. If it is impossible to acquire this kind of documentation, we will accept self-certification on income.

I am self-employed. Can I upload a Schedule C or K-1 from my taxes?
We only accept 1040s, 1099s or W2s as 2020 tax forms.

I applied for CARES rental assistance last year. Do I have to re-apply?
Yes. We are sorry for the inconvenience. But this time around you’ll create a username and password so that you can provide additional information and check the status of your application whenever you want to.

I have neighbors that speak Spanish. Where can they get help to apply?
Call ACTION-Housing at 412-248-0021 and we will get a translator on the phone. The Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corp is also helping provide Spanish language assistance.

My partner and I live together but we are not married. Can we apply separately? How does that work?
Our online system marks will mark your applications as duplicate because you have used the same address. You and your partner are considered a household, so we will ask your landlord to verify what is owed.

Is there a limit on the amount of monthly rent that will be paid?
No. There is no limit.

Can I get Allegheny County Emergency Rental Assistance funding to pay for the internet?
No, but you can pay for gas, electricity, water, sewer, and other heating oil.

Can I fill out the application on my phone?
Yes. You can complete the application on your phone, a tablet or a computer.

What if I can’t wait for utility assistance funding?
Please contact Allegheny Link at 866-730-2368 or AlleghenyLink@ AlleghenyCounty.us. You can also call, text, email or live chat with someone at PA Southwest 2-1-1 anytime day or night.

What if I need to move? Do I apply with my address now?
Yes, you should apply now. We will need the lease for your new place so you should submit that if you do move.

I do not have access to the internet. How will I be contacted about my application?
We can contact you using the phone number you give us, or you can use the email account you set up to fill out your application. Stop in at a drop-in center to use a computer and free WiFi. You can always Call ACTION-Housing at 412-248-0021. We’re here to help!

Do you assist with moving expenses?
No, but there are organizations that do. Please contact Allegheny Link at 866-730-2368 or AlleghenyLink@ AlleghenyCounty.us. You can also call, text, email or live chat with someone at PA Southwest 2-1-1 anytime day or night.

Can landlords check applications on their tenants’ (renters’) behalf?
No. There is a lot of personal information included in the application. Landlords can help tenants with applications, but only tenants can check the status of their applications.

I got a late rent notice. Where do I upload it in the application?
There is a question about the risk of homelessness in the application and you can upload it there. When in doubt, upload your documents somewhere in the application and someone from ACTION-Housing will help you figure it out.

Can I get funding to pay back rent for a house or apartment I do not live in anymore?
Yes. We will pay back rent for a home you no longer live in.

Does each tenant (renter) in a household have to apply?
No. Only one application needs to be submitted per household.

Can I get assistance with the rent I already paid to my landlord?
No, Allegheny County Emergency Rental Assistance funding cannot be used to reimburse you for rent you already paid. If you qualify, rent for future months will be paid.

I created a username and password, but I’m having an issue logging back in. What should I do?
On the login page, click “Need help signing in” and then “Forget password” to reset. If you continue to have issues, please call the Allegheny County DHS Service Desk at 412-350-4357 and choose option 2.

I uploaded bills for my gas, water, sewage and electricity. Is that all I have to do to get those bills paid?
No. Even if you uploaded bills into your application, you’ll need to type in information about each utility, like the name of the utility company and the account number. Uploading bills is not required but can help to expedite processing.