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Human services talk mortgage assistance with commissioners

Director Allison Fisher discusses local CARES program at regular meeting

MIFFLINTOWN–Mifflin-Juniata Human Services director Allison Fisher spoke with Juniata County commissioners during their regular meeting Tuesday regarding the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency rental and mortgage assistance program.

Funded through the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES), Fisher said Juniata County money has been allocated by the Governor and the legislature for housing.

“This money is specifically to help landlords who have become aware that they aren’t getting paid rent from their tenants,” Fisher said.

Applications for the program can be found at PFHA.org and requires both the landlord and the tenant to apply together. Fisher said payment goes directly to the landlord and applications are accepted through the end of September. Eligible applicants must be residents of either Mifflin or Juniata counties, tenants who have had a reduction of more than thirty percent of their income from March through September and the landlord is agreeable and signs off on not evicting. If you think you may meet the criteria for eligibility for this program, call (717) 447-5121 to be screened. Applicants must provide income information (pay stubs) from January 2020 forward, information that verifies employment and a completed CARES RRP application documents.

Applications and information can be found on the Mifflin-Juniata Human Services website or PHFA.org. Fisher said anyone who has difficulty printing the application or does not have access to the internet may call the Human Services office at (717) 447-5121 to have an application mailed to you.

During the meeting Fisher said the department has received notification from the Census Bureau that census takers will be visiting households that have not responded to the census, beginning next week.

“We wanted to let the community know that it is for real,” Fisher said, “If somebody comes to your home next week, ask them for their identification. You can always go to the census.gov site and look at the identification they should be presenting to you.”

Fisher said the census takers will be working throughout Juniata County especially Mifflin Borough and Lack Township, who had a low number of responses.

“It’s so important that people do respond to the census because funding coming into the county depends so much on those numbers of residents in our county. It is an important thing to do,” Juniata County Commissioner Alice Gray said.

Fisher said if anyone wants more information on the census, or if they need help filling out the census, she can be contacted at (717) 436-7739 or (717) 242-5452.

Rhonda Moore, executive director of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce, was also on hand via video conference to speak about small business grants for those affected by the pandemic. Moore said the first round of applications ended Tuesday, but applications can still be submitted. More information on the grants can be found at two websites. The first is AssetsPA.org, which is an umbrella organization that covers Mifflin and Juniata counties. The other is PABusinessGrant.com.

“I kinda like that site (PABusinessGrant.com) personally, because it has a really good clear explanation of what the requirements are to apply and also gives you a set of instructions that you can click on that will tell you exactly what paperwork you need to have ready. It’s very user friendly,” Moore said.

Moore is encouraging all small businesses in the Juniata County area to apply. The grants are for anywhere between $5,000 – $50,000. The requirement for the grant is that the business has less than 25 employees and an income of less than $1 million per year. “There will be multiple rounds, so I absolutely encourage small businesses to apply,” Moore said, “I wanted to emphasize the fact that this is not a loan. This is a grant. I know some of these small businesses are weary of taking on any debt right now, which is understandable.”

Also during the meeting commissioners took the following actions:

¯Approved the “Professional Services Agreement” between Juniata County and SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) for administrative services related to the COVID-19 County Relief Block Grant (Contract No. C000073970). The total cost for this agreement shall not exceed $22,360.00.

¯Acknowledged the resignation of Brenda L. Taylor from her position as a casual, part-time employee with the Treasurer’s Office, effective as of the end of business on June 8, 2020.

¯Approved payment of checks #58955 – #59010 in the amount of $187,875.06.

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