Chester County is again urgently asking property owners with homes for rent to open their doors to the 38 people from 17 households who are still living in a hotel six months after their homes were destroyed by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Many of the families have County-issued federally funded housing vouchers, which would cover the rent, but the lack of available apartments has kept these families stuck in limbo.
“We’re not asking property owners to take risks here. They receive their full rent through a combination of the voucher plus 30% of the tenant’s income,” said Chester County Partnership to End Homelessness Administrator Robert Henry. “We have lived through a similar scenario to this one and know how to address it. After an apartment fire two years ago, landlords saw the need and offered units. We have not experienced the same kind of response following Ida. So, we want to again bring this situation to the attention of property owners and managers in Chester County.”
The cost to house people in a hotel is significantly higher than if residents were living in apartments, even with Chester County’s high rents. The County is paying for the hotel rooms with American Rescue Plan Act funds, but Henry’s focus is more on the conditions under which these households are living than the funding. They have one large room with a microwave for cooking, while when they were living in their former apartments, they had a kitchen and bedrooms.
More affluent residents who had their properties ruined by Ida had the means to find replacement housing more quickly, but those living at the hotel are not as fortunate. The remaining 17 households living there are from Coatesville, Downingtown, Modena, and West Chester.
“These are Chester County residents who want to continue living here. We know it’s a tight housing market, but we also know landlords could step up if they were so inclined,” Henry said. “Some of the families have children who are being bused to their school districts from Exton, which means a longer commute than when they lived at their former home.”
The lack of available apartments for lower-income families, even with housing vouchers, is an ongoing battle for the County. In addition to the families affected by Ida, people who need apartments include victims of domestic violence, eviction, poverty, and health issues.
If you are a rental property owner or manager and would like to make units available to Ida victims, please contract Katie Dempsey at [email protected] or call 610-235-4487