Having Trouble Making Rent? State Assistance Fund Now Open for Applications

West Sider

July 16, 2020

Originally published in West Side Rag on July 16, 2020.

A boost to unemployment insurance and eviction moratoriums helped renters stay in place at the height of the coronavirus, but the money is running out and most evictions are set to start up again next month.

The state has set up a $100 million rental assistance fund and people can apply for it starting today. It’s been criticized as inadequate, and Curbed points out that Gov. Cuomo has meanwhile been rolling back some eviction protections.

State Senator Brian Benjamin explained more of how the assistance program works below, and has contact info for staff at the bottom if people have questions:

  • Starting today, Thursday, July 16, New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) opens the application process for the NYS COVID Rent Relief Program, which will provide up to $100 million in rental assistance to tenants throughout the state. Applications must be submitted online or by mail within two weeks. If submitting by mail, your submitted application must be postmarked by the deadline.
  • Under this program, eligible households will benefit from a one-time rental subsidy paid directly to landlords.Tenants are not required to repay this assistance.
  • To qualify, applicants must meet all of the eligibility requirements:
  • You must be a renter with primary residence in New York State. The program is open to tenants living in both rent regulated and market rate homes. Applicants do not need to have leases to be eligible.
  • Before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, your household income (including unemployment benefits) must have been below 80% of the area median income, adjusted for household size. You can find your county’s area median income, based on your household size, here: www.hcr.ny.gov/eligible-income-limits-80-ami-county.
  • Before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, your household must have been “rent burdened”, which is defined as paying more than 30% of gross monthly income towards rent. Gross income includes wages as well as any cash grants, child support, social security, unemployment benefits, etc.
  • You must have someone in your household with U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status (can be a minor).
  • You must have lost income during the period of April 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020.

Detailed information about the program, including eligibility criteria, the application process, the documents that will be requested as part of the application process, and answers to frequently answered questions are available now on HCR’s website. Additionally, starting this morning, HCR is operating a special helpline to answer questions and provide assistance with the application process.
Funds for the program are limited. Still, the application process is NOT first come, first serve. Residents can submit applications anytime within the two week application period. In choosing recipients for this rental subsidy, HCR will prioritize applications from tenants with the lowest incomes and highest rent burdens.
If you are chosen to receive a rental subsidy through this program, New York State will cover the difference between your household’s rent burden on March 1, 2020 and your household’s increase in rent burden during the period your household is applying for assistance. Households can apply for up to four months of assistance for the months of April 2020 through July 2020.Tenants do not have to be behind in their rent to receive assistance. Tenants who are current on their rent payments can have funds applied towards a credit for future months. The rent subsidy payment will go directly to your landlord.
Again, the application can be found here starting today, Thursday, July 16 and must be submitted in two weeks. For more information about this program, you can also email my office at helpmesd30@gmail.com, or call us at 212-222-7315.