Pennsylvania Creates Online Housing Tool to Remove Barriers to Housing Access
As indicated in a recent press release, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), which includes the Office of Developmental programs (ODP) Secretary announced the launch of an online tool to remove barriers to accessing housing called Prescreening, Assessment, Intake, and Referral (PAIR).
“DHS is committed to serving people where they want to be and enabling people who receive long-term care to live in the settings of their choice,” said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. “With the launch of PAIR, the Department hopes to allow more individuals access to housing opportunities across the commonwealth.”
The release explains that PAIR uses a secure, online process, that allows lead county-based agencies to review individuals for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 811 Project Rental Assistance.
Through the portal, an individual’s eligibility is reviewed through a short questionnaire, and additional data is collected for those who potentially qualify. Once an apartment in the program becomes available, the pre-qualified applicant is automatically matched to the property and referred to the property manager.
The initial funding for the creation of PAIR was secured through an award by HUD. As Pennsylvania continues to implement the housing strategy, DHS plans to expand the online tool to a wide range of housing opportunities available for individuals with low income, those experiencing homelessness, and people with disabilities across the commonwealth.
In May 2016, the commonwealth unveiled its five-year housing strategy, and laid out four main strategies:
- Expand access and create new, affordable, integrated, and supportive housing opportunities;
- Strengthen and expand housing and housing-related services and supports;
- Assess new and existing programs to determine future needs and measure outcomes; and
- Promote teamwork and communication in both state and local government to develop housing opportunities for all populations served by DHS.