City Council Passes Law to Promote Transparency for Rental and Utility Emergency Assistance Grants

Image credit: New York City Council.

The bill promotes transparency of the program due to possible heightened need as the eviction moratorium is set to expire on January 15th. On December 15, 2021, the City Council passed Int. 2081-A, a bill that provides more transparency around emergency assistance grant programs. These grants, run by the Human Resources Administration (HRA), are “one shot deals” that can assist New Yorkers with rent or utility payments when they are facing an unforeseen situation or event like fire disasters, evictions or dispossession, domestic violence, homelessness, or other circumstances that impact the health and safety of individuals or families. The bill was sponsored by Council Member Francisco Moya. 

As the pandemic continues to financially impact New Yorkers, and the eviction moratorium expires on January 15th, there is growing concern about how New Yorkers will be able to meet rent and utility payments. To ensure that New Yorkers have a better understanding about resources available to them, Int. 2081-A promotes further transparency about these emergency assistance grants. 

The bill requires the Commissioner of HRA to post information about the emergency assistance grants to the HRA websites and to take steps to enhance applications for these programs, including the creation of an information sheet about the grant programs. The sheet would include information about the forms and materials an applicant is required to submit, and whether an applicant will be expected to pay back any benefits. 

The bill also requires improved outreach and administration of the program in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, including posting about the program in public spaces and online in different languages. Agency outreach for seniors, people with disabilities, and people with lack of access or familiarity to technology through partnerships with elected officials, nonprofits and community based organizations is included in the bill as well. 

Additionally, the bill requires quarterly reporting on the administration and utilization of the grants for the previous quarter. These reports will be submitted to the Mayor and Speaker of the Council and posted on the agency’s website. The data in the report will include the number of new applications and the number of applications accepted and rejected. 

The bill takes effect immediately. 

Council Member Moya stated, “We’ve seen how COVID devastated financially insecure New Yorkers, especially our Latino, Black and immigrant communities. We need to ensure that the resources available for New Yorkers are realistically accessible in urgent times of need. This bill, Intro 2081, will help New Yorkers better access and understand what they’re applying for and what actions will be required throughout the process. This legislation will also help our city better understand who we are and aren’t helping so we can continually improve the process. This is an example of how we can improve city systems and resources to support our most vulnerable communities.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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