More money may be needed for the state's emergency rental assistance program, according to the findings of a survey conducted by an industry trade group, the Community Housing Improvement Program.
The survey found total rent arrears for tenants in rent-stabilized buildings adds up to $1.62 billion in New York City alone, with about 123,000 tenants owing an average of $13,177. Only 40,000 renters living in rent-stabilized buildings have applied for assistance out of as many as 82,000 tenants who qualify.
“The funds allocated for ERAP are only covering the tip of the iceberg. The level of debt renters have accrued is likely double what is available for relief,” said Jay Martin, executive director of CHIP. “This problem, if not addressed, will have catastrophic consequences for the economic well being of tens of thousands of New Yorkers and the rental buildings they live in.”
So far, New York officials have reported 182,528 people have applied for aid under the program, with 71,237 approved. Approximately $1.2 billion in funds have been obligated or paid. That leaves 111,291 people with pending applications. If they receive funding at the same rate, all funds will be exhausted before all potential qualifying renters are covered.
The organization estimates between 259,000 and 309,000 tenants statewide have not applied for assistance undre the program, with arrears totaling between $3.4 billion and $5.2 billion.
State officials last week returned to Albany for an extraordinary session of the state Legislature to extend New York's eviction moratorium to Jan. 15. Lawmakers also included a provision that allowed landlords to contest hardship claims by tenant in court.