READING, Pa. - Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said he doesn't have the authority to extend the state's moratorium on evictions and foreclosures beyond Aug. 31, meaning renters will no longer be shielded from their homes for failing to pay rent during the coronavirus pandemic.

"It consistently has been the top need every month since March," said Ashley Chambers, senior vice president of community impact for the United Way of Berks County.

Chambers said housing has been a huge concern for people in the community, which is why she's pushing families to reach out for rental assistance. She said that it's as easy as dialing 211.

"Through 211, they can be connected to organizations like Berks Coalition to End Homelessness, who can provide rental assistance to individuals in need," Chambers said.

She said the 211 hotline has been inundated with shelter and housing calls throughout the pandemic, so the United Way is providing additional funding to organizations that are trying to help people in need.

"The money goes directly to the landlord, so that even further kind of gives that commitment that 'I have found assistance. They're going to pay you directly,' to the landlord, and that should hopefully stem some of the evictions," Chambers said.

She said the goal is to avoid evictions on both sides, keeping tenants safe under a roof and landlords paid properly. The 211 hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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