‘The program failed miserably’: Local landlords say CARES Act failed them, their tenants

PITTSBURGH — Landlords in Pittsburgh said they feel forgotten and failed by the Cares Act that was supposed to help protect them and their tenants.

Some haven’t taken a paycheck in 9 months and fear what could happen the longer this pandemic persists.

We’re left out in the dark and it’s a shame,” Robert Dean said.

Dean has been a landlord for 25 years with properties all around Pittsburgh.

“I have 26 buildings and 41 tenants,” Dean said.

Dean hasn’t been able to take a paycheck since March of last year. He reached out to Channel 11 with serious concerns about the Cares Act. Ten percent of his tenants applied for rent relief.

“One managed to get 2 months’ rent,” he said. “The government can hand out millions in PPP loans but can’t really help the ma and pa landlords.”

The bills for 41 properties are falling on dean and not everyone is able to make rent.

“Next month real estate taxes are due, fire insurance. We have overhead,” Dean said. “It’s a constant battle. The phone rings every day. I’m everything. The landlord, the maintenance main, the fix it man. You name it.”

Dean said he’s far from the only one.

“After talking to my constituents, there in the same boat. They didn’t get any money either. One has over 100 properties. Got zero,” he said.

Allegheny County said one of Dean’s tenants was denied funding for failing to submit proper documentation. Another tenant only received one month’s rent due to a clerical error and in December, which has now been fixed. Since the program expired, 108 million of the state’s 175 million set aside for homeowners and renters in Pennsylvania was unused, and went to the Department of Corrections.

“The program failed miserably,” Dean said.

The concern for mom and pop landlords: What happens next?

“You’re going to see a lot of foreclosures and who’s going to be the landlord then? The bank? Dean said. “Eventually it’s going to catch up with everyone and it’s not going to be a pretty sight.”

Allegheny County is asking neighbors who need help paying rent or utilities to check back in with them on Feb. 1 when they expect more funding will be available.