Letter from NYS Legislature to Treasury re: Homeowner Assistance Fund

New York State Legislature. Senate Seal

 

THE NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATURE 

October 29, 2021 
Secretary Janet Yellen 
United States Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20220 

Dear Secretary Yellen: 

As you know, on March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, which included  nearly $10 billion of dedicated financial relief for homeowners, a critical component of the larger  effort to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. This funding is intended for homeowners with incomes  at or below 150% of the area median income for their household size who have experienced  financial hardship after January 2020. The relief can be applied toward a wide range of eligible  expenses, including mortgage costs, tax payments, utilities, certain necessary repairs, and more.  States seeking to participate in the program are required to submit a Homeowner Assistance Fund  (HAF) application to the Treasury Department specifying how the funds would be spent; the NYS  Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) submitted New York’s draft plan on August  20, 2021, the first day the Treasury Department’s online portal opened. 

Unfortunately, while funds from the American Rescue Plan have been broadly deployed to provide  many other types of relief, homeowners in New York have yet to access a single dollar from the  nearly $540 million in funding allocated to our state, because the Treasury Department has not yet  approved New York’s HAF plan. We understand that the Department has not approved any other  state’s plan either. As members of the New York State Legislature who have worked hard with our  colleagues in Congress to ensure that federal and State funds address the tremendous need for relief  from pandemic-related hardships in our communities, we urge you to ensure that the Treasury  Department expeditiously reviews New York’s application, works with the State to promptly address  any concerns that may arise, and approves the distribution of this funding as soon as possible. 

Since the start of the pandemic we have been committed to the principle that no New Yorkers  should lose their housing because of health-related or financial hardships caused by COVID-19.  While we have enacted comprehensive foreclosure and eviction moratoria that have prevented mass  displacement, only substantial public funding can provide long-term relief. As New York has shown  through our increasingly successful implementation of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program— which has been greatly enhanced in recent months in part as a result of significant legislative  oversight—we have the ability to distribute large amounts of federal funding to those in need.1 

1 After encountering initial implementation hurdles in June and July, New York’s Covid-19 Emergency Rental Assistance  Program (CERAP) has obligated or paid a nation-leading $1.8 billion in rental assistance as of October 19th.

Approving our HAF program will enable DHCR to prevent displacement of homeowners and  mitigate financial hardships associated with the pandemic by preventing homeowner mortgage  delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures, and loss of utilities or home energy services. 

Should you or your staff wish to discuss this matter, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of us  directly or via Daniel Mosher, Legislative Director in Senator Kavanagh’s office, at 518-455-4654 or  dmosher.nysenate@gmail.com

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter and for all that you and your colleagues at the  Treasury Department are doing to ensure the nation’s recovery from this devastating pandemic. 

Sincerely, qt_V_5liFM8hbbZbGCYF9p4W4dpQIG5gT9swaxNCtm-Nd5w_Jfa6J5XznGxrSQHQo-d7N-idfe17apu7G8IEY8105OhGort8K05sfZ_nC7eJjFQz7VuZ09fdmF33tJbgjrOIXai1

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Sen. Brian Kavanagh 

Chair, Committee on Housing, Construction,  and Community Development 

Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz Chair, Committee on Housing 

Additional Signatories from the New York State Legislature: 

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr. State Sen. Jamaal Bailey State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi State Sen. Jabari Brisport State Sen. Samra Brouk State Sen. Leroy Comrie State Sen. Jeremy Cooney State Sen. James Gaughran State Sen. Michael Gianaris State Sen. Andrew Gounardes State Sen. Peter Harckham State Sen. Michelle Hinchey State Sen. Brad Hoylman State Sen. Robert Jackson State Sen. Anna Kaplan State Sen. Tim Kennedy State Sen. Liz Krueger 

State Sen. John Liu 

State Sen. John Mannion 

State Sen. Rachel May 

State Sen. Shelley Mayer 

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie 

State Sen. Kevin Parker 

State Sen. Roxanne Persaud 

State Sen. Jessica Ramos 

State Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick State Sen. Gustavo Rivera 

State Sen. Julia Salazar 

State Sen. James Sanders 

State Sen. Diane Savino 

State Sen. Jose Serrano 

State Sen. James Skoufis 

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky State Sen. Kevin Thomas 

Assemblymember Peter J. Abbate, Jr. Assemblymember Thomas J. Abinanti 

Assemblymember Brian Barnwell Assemblymember Charles Barron Assemblymember Sarah Clark 

Assemblymember Inez E. Dickens Assemblymember Jeffery Dinowitz Assemblymember Steve Englebright Assemblymember Sandy Galef 

Assemblymember Anna Kelles 

Assemblymember John T. McDonald, III Assemblymember Catherine Nolan Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell Assemblymember Amy Paulin 

Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages Assemblymember Fred W. Thiele, Jr. Assemblymember Monica Wallace 

cc: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand 

U.S. Rep. Lee M. Zeldin 

U.S. Rep. Andrew R. Garbarino U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi 

U.S. Rep. Kathleen M. Rice 

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks U.S. Rep. Grace Meng U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez  U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke  U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat 

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres 

U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman 

U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones  

U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado 

U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney U.S. Rep. Tom Reed U.S. Rep. John M. Katko U.S. Rep. Joseph Morelle U.S. Rep. Brian D. Higgins U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs 

RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner, NYS Homes and Community Renewal Drew Maloney, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, Treasury Jennifer Debes Bang, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, Treasury