NY's rent relief funding is poised to run out next month. Why Hochul wants more money.
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday asked the federal government for additional funding to cover thousands of applications for rent relief in New York, saying the state’s original allotment will run out by early October.
The state received $2.6 billion in federal funding as part of the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program and launched its application process in June.
After a slow start, the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance waded through a logjam of 160,000 applications by mid-August, and it has since distributed or obligated more than $1.6 billion to landlords on behalf of eligible tenants facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the state continues to receive about 9,000 applications per week, Hochul noted in her letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday.
At that pace, the state’s federal rent relief allotment will be spent in a matter of weeks, even with $250 million in state dollars for those who don’t qualify for the federal assistance.
“Even with these additional state funds, New York’s need far exceeds available funding, and an additional allocation of federal funding will be required to address this crisis,” Hochul wrote.
On Sept. 30, the Treasury is directed to reallocate what’s left in rent relief funds nationwide to states that have obligated at least 65% of their original allotment, Hochul said.
Six weeks ago, New York was in danger of having its funds reallocated to other states. Now, the state has demonstrated both an ability to distribute the money and a need for more of it, Hochul said.
The rent relief program in New York will continue to accept applications and issue payments for as long as funding remains available, said OTDA spokesperson Anthony Farmer Tuesday.
“We are making a concerted effort to engage landlords, ensure submitted applications satisfy state and federal guidelines, and get this critical funding to its intended recipients,” he said, adding that the participation of both tenants and landlords is vital to the funding process.
The program was meant to cover the losses landlords incurred as some tenants stopped paying rent amid the COVID-19 pandemic, due to loss of work, medical expenses or other financial hurdles.
It provides up to a year of rent and utility arrears, up to three months of prospective rent and up to a year or protection from eviction for eligible tenants.
Last week, Hochul announced that New Yorkers who make between 80% and 120% of the area median income were eligible to apply for the remainder of the rent relief funding.
Previously, only those who earned at or below 80% of an area’s median income, which varies by county and household size, were eligible.
“I made it clear that my top priority was to accelerate getting relief money out the door as quickly as possible to New Yorkers struggling from the economic devastation of the pandemic," Hochul said in a statement on Sept. 14. "While we are ramping up those efforts, our work still isn't done.”
The state’s eviction moratorium, put in place last year, was extended twice to allow for further distribution of the federal funding.
Hochul called the state Legislature back to Albany just after she took office, in part to extend the moratorium to Jan. 15, 2022.
Sarah Taddeo is an enterprise reporter for USA Today Network's New York State Team. Got a story tip or comment? Contact Sarah at STADDEO@Gannett.com or (585) 258-2774. Follow her on Twitter @Sjtaddeo. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Please consider becoming a digital subscriber.