Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced a new streamlined application process for New York's rent relief program to help eliminate potential barriers for eligible New Yorkers to receive funding. The new process immediately relaxes documentation standards for both tenants and landlords and implements a streamlined process for submission of arrears documentation for multi-tenant landlords effective tomorrow, July 27. With these new processes in place, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will be able to establish a number of viable applications out of the total of over 150,000 submitted by August 7.
Additionally, the contracted vendor working with the State on the rent relief program now has over 1,000 staff dedicated to this effort and will be onboarding additional accounting experts. The NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will also onboard a minimum of 350 State staff volunteers from other agencies starting today to clear the pending 4,828 cases reviewed and verified applications for payment by August 3. By August 31, OTDA will be current with payment for all pending, verified applications.
"The COVID pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on New Yorkers all across the State, and they need rental assistance now," Governor Cuomo said. "The $2.7 billion Rental Assistance Program is already providing funding to some of our most vulnerable residents who were prioritized during the first 30 days of the application process, and now we must focus on delivering funds to the remaining applicants. To streamline this process, I've directed OTDA to work with their vendor to disburse payments as quickly and efficiently as possible we can deliver billions of dollars in rental assistance to New Yorkers who have been struggling to pay rent due to no fault of their own."
New York State's rental assistance program makes up to $2.7 billion in emergency rental assistance available for struggling New Yorkers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program assists households behind on their rent and that have experienced financial hardship, that are at risk of homelessness or housing instability and that earn at or below 80 percent of area median income. Administered by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides assistance with up to 12 months of past-due rent, 3 months of prospective rental assistance and 12 months of utility arrears payments to eligible New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status. The program is expected to serve between 170,000 and 200,000 households.
In addition to fiscal relief, ERAP provides significant tenant protections. In order to receive assistance, the landlord must agree to waive any late fees due on past-due rent; and not increase the tenant's monthly rent or evict them for one year, except in limited circumstances.
The program is funded by $2.6 billion in federal resources and $100 million of state funding and is structured to help the state and the local governments that received funds directly from the federal government to collaborate and coordinate their efforts, thereby leveraging resources, gaining efficiencies and preventing fraud.
OTDA has organized an unprecedented effort to establish partnerships with local governments across the state to ensure that community-based organizations will provide outreach and direct application assistance in multiple languages to potential recipients. This effort mobilizes substantial resources in order to ensure tenants from all across the state are aware of ERAP and able to apply.
In addition, the agency is undertaking fraud prevention efforts to identify unreported income and to prevent duplicate rental payments.
Seven communities that received funding for emergency rental assistance directly from the federal government opted to administer their own programs. Residents of the City of Rochester and Monroe County, the City of Yonkers, Onondaga County and the towns of Hempstead, Islip and Oyster Bay must apply with their local programs for emergency rental assistance and are ineligible for assistance from the state-administered Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The $2.7 billion program includes the $168 million provided directly to these localities.