Housing Needs Survey Released Amid Pandemic

Housing Coalition LogoThe Lackawanna County Housing Coalition has released a housing needs survey to collect critical, up-to-date information about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the residents of Lackawanna County. The survey is intended for tenants, landlords, homeowners, and community organization staff and is available online in both English and Spanish: 

  • Survey in English: bit.ly/lackawannahousing 
  • Survey in Spanish: bit.ly/lackawannahousingspanish 

Those who cannot complete the survey online may pick up a paper survey at United Neighborhood Centers Community Services, 410 Olive St., Scranton, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. 

The information collected through this survey will be used by local housing and social service providers to assist residents who have been impacted by the pandemic, particularly those who may face eviction or foreclosure when state-wide moratoriums expire at the end of August. 

About the Housing Coalition: The Lackawanna County Housing Coalition is a catalyst for decent, safe, affordable housing. The Coalition’s members—which include nonprofit, public, and private affordable housing providers—seek to provide housing opportunities and empowerment towards self-sufficiency for all persons in Lackawanna County. For more information, visit http://www.lchousingcoalition.org. 

Diocese of Scranton Announces Gradual Reopening of Parishes Amid Crisis

web1_TheDioceseofScranton-logo-1-In a video message to parishioners, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera announced details regarding the gradual reopening of additional parishes in the Diocese of Scranton.

Starting on Monday, June 1,  parishes in Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties resumed in-person Masses.

On Monday, June 8, parishes in Lackawanna County will also be able to resume in-person Masses. The exact timetable for an individual parish to reopen will be the decision of its pastor with regard to preparedness, especially in regards to maintaining proper social distancing and sanitizing.

Mass attendance at all parishes will be limited to no more than 25-percent of a church’s seating capacity. Parishioners will be required to wear face masks and remain a proper social distance of at least six feet away from other individuals/families.

“For the last 10 weeks, I know many of our faithful parishioners have been longing to return to church, participate in Mass and receive the Holy Eucharist,” Bishop Bambera said. “The Diocese has been working hard to resume in-person worship in a safe, comfortable and reverent manner.”

Masses in four counties, Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga counties, resumed on Monday, May 18. While initially limited to a capacity of 25 people, parishes in those four counties can now also increase their Mass capacity to no more than 25-percent of total church occupancy. 

Additional guidance for all parishes includes:

  • Those who feel vulnerable because of their age or underlying medical conditions will be encouraged to stay home. •People who are feeling ill will be directed not to attend public Masses.
  • The Sunday Mass obligation remains suspended at this time.
  • Parishes are encouraged to continue live streaming Masses and a daily Mass will continue to be broadcast on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton.
  • Pews will be marked off or designated in order to maintain proper social distancing guidelines.
  • Holy Communion will be distributed at the end of Mass. Parishioners are strongly advised to receive the Body of Christ in the hand. Distribution of the Precious Blood remains suspended at this time.

“As the doors of our parishes reopen, everyone has an important role to play. The safety of our faithful people, our clergy and our community is the most important factor guiding any decisions that are made,” Bishop Bambera added. 

Bishop Bambera encourages the faithful to visit the Diocese of Scranton’s website for the latest news and information regarding the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PennDot Extends Various Deadlines, Offers Safety Tips During Crisis

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has announced that expiration dates for driver licenses, identification cards, and learner’s permits, will be extended for Pennsylvania residents in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Effective May 27, 2020, expiration dates for driver licenses, photo ID cards and learner’s permits scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through June 30, 2020, have been extended until June 30, 2020. These extensions are in addition to those announced on April 30, which extended products with expiration dates up to May 31 to June 30.

A camera card is considered a driver’s license, so it is covered by the same terms and conditions extending other driver’s license products. Camera cards with expiration dates within this timeframe are also extended through June 30, 2020. 

Additionally, limited services are available at some Driver License and Photo License Centers. For a list of open driver license and photo license centers and the services provided, as well as their hours of operation, please visit www.dmv.pa.gov.

Customers may continue to complete various transactions and access multiple resources online at www.dmv.pa.gov. Driver and vehicle online services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and include driver’s license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals; driver-history services; changes of address; driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters; ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee; and driver license and photo ID duplicates. There are no additional fees for using online services.

PennDOT will continue to evaluate these processes and will communicate any changes with the public.

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As counties move into the yellow phase of reopening and “Stay at Home Orders” are adjusted, the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) remind drivers that traffic safety must be top of mind when behind the wheel.

“While social distancing is still encouraged, when you do travel please drive safely,” said Acting PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “We urge all Pennsylvanians to always wear their seat belts, adhere to speed limits, and never drive impaired or distracted.”

The agencies are partnering with municipal police departments and other state and local safety organizations as part of a statewide “Click It or Ticket” seat belt enforcement and education initiative through June 14. The national enforcement effort has been postponed to November 2020 due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Pennsylvania law requires all occupants younger than 18 to wear a seat belt when riding in a vehicle, as well as every driver and front-seat passenger. Children under the age of two must be secured in a rear-facing car seat, and children under the age of four must be restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children must ride in a booster seat until their eighth birthday.

The public can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles in Pennsylvania by visiting www.511PA.com. The service, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and access to more than 950 traffic cameras. Motorists can also see active construction projects at www.511PA.com.

According to state police data, the number of crashes and DUI arrests have fallen dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic that has kept more people at home and off the roads, but officials caution that those rates could creep back up as restrictions are lifted during the summer months.

“Even though we are all traveling less often, we still have the responsibility to do our part to keep Pennsylvania’s roads safe,” said Major Bruce Williams, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol. “The first step toward safer roads is a commitment to wearing a seatbelt and zero tolerance for impaired or distracted driving.”

Nationally, many states have reported alarming speed increases with the lower traffic volumes during “Stay at Home Orders.” PennDOT and PSP urge drivers to always follow the speed limit and drive safely. Buckle up for every trip, designate a sober driver, and never drive distracted.

PennDOT data shows that total traffic fatalities decreased to 1,059 in 2019, a new record low, from 1,190 in 2018. According to national data, over 90 percent of crashes are caused by driver behavior. For this reason, PennDOT focuses on data trends to drive enforcement and education improvements and invests approximately $18 million annually in federal grant funds statewide to support these behavioral safety programs.

More COVID-19 information is available at www.health.pa.gov. For more information, visit www.dmv.pa.gov or www.PennDOT.gov.