New York state is running out of money for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and is asking for more funding from the federal government.
Gov. Kathy Hochul says $996 million is needed to help tenants and landlords still struggling because of the pandemic and has been requested from the U.S. Department of Treasury. Because funds are dwindling, the state will begin limiting who can apply for rent relief starting on Sunday night. Tenants in Dutchess, Nassau, Niagara, Oneida, Saratoga, Suffolk and Westchester counties will be able to apply until money runs out. Households anywhere in the state with income between 80% and 120% the area median income will also still be able to apply for assistance.
A letter from 17 members of New York’s Congressional delegation was sent to U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen Friday. They asked the department to reallocate unused funds to help New York continue to provide rent relief.
After a slow start under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance says the ERAP program has now paid or obligated more than $2 billion to more than 165,000 applicants. The state says there have been 278,700 applications total.
The Legal Aid Society is not happy the state is closing off applications. Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit of The Legal Aid Society Judith Goldiner called the move “premature” and said it will “traumatize our clients still in need of these critical funds.”
Goldiner goes on to say in a statement:
“Under U.S Treasury Department eligibility standards, New York will likely qualify for the $1 billion in additional rent relief resources recently requested, and given ERAP’s botched application launch this past year, we are concerned that any re-launch will encounter the same issues only to further discourage families from applying. Moreover, we expect that any re-launch will occur after the eviction moratorium expires in early 2022, leaving families susceptible to eviction. The Hochul Administration must reverse course and keep the ERAP portal open so New York City families can continue to apply.”