by David Hunt
For many northwest Philadelphia residents facing eviction, Mt. Airy CDC was indispensable.
In charge of this effort is Stephanie Butler, the HUD Certified Director of the Mt. Airy Community Development Corporation (CDC), where she has worked for 20 years. In this role, Butler has been busy assisting residents of northwest Philadelphia with the city’s rental eviction diversion program.
Philadelphia launched its rental eviction diversion program in September 2020. City council has talked about its implementation for years, but it was put in place to help tenants whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic, according to Butler.
The program is modeled after foreclosure hijacking, an area in which Butler has worked for many years. Qualifying tenants are eligible for $ 2,000 per month for up to 18 months, and they can also apply this three-month advance if needed. It is only available to those who are renting. It does not cover breach of lease evictions. For example, if someone had a dog in a house where the contract specifically stated that owning one was prohibited, Mt. Airy CDC cannot help and the tenant could be evicted.
These are services many in northwest Philadelphia need, Butler said.
“There is a shortage of affordable housing,” she says. “There are people who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19 and are behind on their rent,” Butler said. “There are a majority of people who need housing repairs and can’t afford to pay for them, and they’re looking for municipal programs or some type of rent subsidy to help them.
Butler is a longtime resident of Philadelphia. After receiving his real estate license from the School of Real Estate at Temple University, Butler earned a paralegal degree from the American Institute. Before working at Mt. Airy CDC, Butler worked at another agency doing the same thing: helping people.
The agency was the now defunct Germantown Settlement, a housing and social service agency, where she discovered her passion for helping homeowners.
“I volunteered there for the energy program, and the directors asked me if I wanted to take training for the board, and I said ‘yes’,” Butler said. “I’ve always loved helping people.”
With rental hijacking, Mt. Airy CDC’s housing advisory service provides a wide range of services: organization of more than 40 workshops for the purchase of a first home per year, prevention of foreclosures, individual advice before the purchase where they help people buying a house, repairs, credit and budget. , according to the two Butlers. Basically anything to do with home ownership the CDC Housing Council has seen it and knows how to fix it.
Mount. The Airy CDC rental eviction diversion program, led by Butler, has helped more than 50 tenants since its inception in September 2020.
Every Wednesday afternoon, Butler joins a Zoom call with the tenant, landlord, and a volunteer mediator lawyer to try to help tenants who are behind on rent strike a deal with their landlord. Rental hijacking is a big part of what the CDC’s housing council does, according to Butler. (Most of the work the CDC does in and around housing is pre-purchase counseling.)
Butler’s work has earned the admiration not only of local residents, but also of those in charge of presenting the awards. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) awarded Butler the Best Advisor award in 2014. In 2021, she is still going strong.
For fiscal 2016, Mt. Airy CDC’s housing advisory team won the award for best agency. Of the 95 agencies considered for the award across the state, the home team – with Butler at the helm – came out victorious.
Butler said tenants aren’t the only ones needing help. There is almost an even split between renters and owners looking for Mt. Help from Airy CDC.
“It’s 50-50. There are the tenants who are late because of COVID-19, and then there is a shortage of affordable homes and places to rent, ”Butler said. “You have the homeowners who have lost their jobs, their income and who are behind on their mortgage. Since there is still a moratorium on both, people are doing fine at the moment. “
For more information and to visit Mt. Airy CDC Housing Consulting Department: mtairycdc.org/housing.