Mar. 15, 2024


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#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol

In this Edition:
  •   Senior Issues, Human Services Topics of District Workday
  •   Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund Reopening March 18
  •   Honoring Our Women Veterans License Plate
  •   Housing Shortage, Attainability Focus of 12-Bill House Package
  •   Report Potholes to PennDOT
  •   SNAP Warns of Scams
  •   PennDOT Announces Update for Automated School Bus Enforcement
 
 
Senior Issues, Human Services Topics of District Workday

 

On Wednesday, Jay Stanton from Elder Express joined me on a journey around the Hummelstown area to learn more about the nonprofit organization and issues affecting its riders. This free transportation service helps people run errands and get to appointments.

Riders told me about their military service, careers and retirement, benefits from the Hummelstown Food Pantry, medical needs, and more.

The District Workday was one of many events I have planned for this year. Upcoming outreach opportunities include a Children’s Trout Derby, Health Expo and Ice Cream & Issues. Click here to learn more about this year’s events.
   
 
Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund Reopening March 18


The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) today announced the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund (PAHAF) is reopening on Monday, March 18, to homeowners struggling as a result of pandemic-related financial hardships.

The program provides financial assistance to eligible homeowners for mortgage and housing-related expenses to address delinquency and avoid default, foreclosure or displacement from their homes. It was paused last year as the agency processed a backlog of applications. The agency is now accepting new applications until the remaining funds are exhausted. So far, more than 15,500 households have received more than $205 million of the $350 million awarded to the Commonwealth through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible applicants with priority given to homeowners facing an imminent adverse action (IAA) such as a notice of foreclosure, sheriff sale or utility shut-off notice. Applicants should understand that submitting an application does not guarantee funding.

More information about the program, eligibility and how to apply is available at www.pahaf.org. If homeowners have questions, they can contact the dedicated PAHAF Call Center at 888-987-2423, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
 
 
Honoring Our Women Veterans License Plate


In recognition of Women's History Month in March, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) is reminding drivers that purchasing an “Honoring Our Women Veterans” license plate both recognizes the importance of women who served and supports programs assisting the nearly 64,000 women veterans in Pennsylvania.

Each plate costs $40, with $15 going directly to the Pennsylvania Veterans' Trust Fund (VTF). The VTF regularly issues grants to statewide charitable organizations assisting veterans service organizations and county directors of veterans affairs. The grants are used to aid veterans in need of shelter, essential goods and other services.

The plate is available for passenger cars or trucks with a registered gross weight of not more than 14,000 pounds.

To learn more about how to purchase plates honoring women veterans, or other veterans, visit www.vtf.pa.gov.
 
 
Housing Shortage, Attainability Focus of 12-Bill House Package


A group of House members this week unveiled a package of 12 bills to help more individuals afford and obtain housing in the Commonwealth.

The package focuses on affordability through tax breaks, grants and incentives for both homeowners and builders, as well as reassessing and updating building codes and regulations.

Over the past four years, a lack of supply, coupled with increasing costs for both rentals and home purchases, are making it difficult for Pennsylvanians to find appropriate housing. According to some estimates, Pennsylvania is short 98,000 housing units, and the median new home sale price in Pennsylvania last year was $560,152, which is $130,000 more than the national average. Meanwhile, rent increases have grown so severe that most counties in the Commonwealth have fewer than 30% of renters paying below the recommended 30% of their income on housing.

Access to affordable housing supports stable families, promotes employment, weans those living at or below poverty levels off public support by transitioning them to family-supporting jobs, and supports local economies. In addition, business leaders continue to emphasize the current labor shortage in Pennsylvania is being exacerbated by a lack of housing stock for workers.

More information about the bill package is available here.
 
 

Report Potholes to PennDOT

While it’s always great to welcome the spring thaw, it also brings with it more potholes on our roads and bridges.

Extreme fluctuations in temperatures can contribute to more potholes on our roads.

To help combat potholes and prevent them from becoming a danger to vehicles and drivers on the road, you can report potholes to PennDOT. Simply call 1-800-FIX-ROAD or click here to file a report online.
 
 
SNAP Warns of Scams


Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Val Arkoosh is warning Pennsylvanians of a potential scam targeting individuals who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits wherein a social media post directs individuals to an offer for emergency SNAP benefits and a link to a website in order to obtain their personal information.

The scam, primarily found on Facebook, involves a link to a Google form, beginning with a “sites.google.com” address, that implies that SNAP recipients may be eligible for “$750 in emergency SNAP benefits” if they fill out their personal payment information. The post also states that there is an application deadline for SNAP, but there is never an application deadline for SNAP benefits.

DHS does send informational text messages and phone calls to people who receive SNAP, Medicaid, and other benefits from the number 1-833-648-1964. However, DHS' text messages will not include:
 
  •   Details about a person’s benefits, such as the amount of SNAP they are authorized to receive,
  •   A request for specific personal information, and/or
  •   Links to unofficial sites; most DHS texts will direct people to dhs.pa.gov, COMPASS, or a site that ends in .gov or .org.
 
 
PennDOT Announces Update for Automated School Bus Enforcement


The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has published updated Program Guidelines for School Bus Side Stop Signal Arm Enforcement Systems to the PennDOT website, with further instructions for vendors on the hearing process, as well as other guidance and key reminders related to the program. Frequently Asked Questions and a list of PA Approved School Bus Side Stop Signal Arm Enforcement Systems can also be found online.

Pennsylvania law, updated by Act 19 of 2023, allows school districts to install and operate automated camera systems for the purpose of enforcing Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law and increasing safety for children riding school buses across the state. Violations identified by a camera system are reviewed by police under agreement with the school district. After that review the school district may issue a violation to the vehicle owner, including a $300 fine. These violations are civil penalties only and no points will be assessed to driver’s licenses.

Under the law, motor vehicle owners may request a hearing to contest liability before a PennDOT hearing officer, at no cost to the vehicle owner. This was updated by Act 19. Previously, an owner could contest liability by requesting a hearing with the magisterial district judge where the violation occurred and paying the applicable civil filing fees. Beginning this week, notices of violation will include instructions for requesting a hearing with a PennDOT hearing officer.
   
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