Renters will not have to repay the rental subsidy. On July 14, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new statewide emergency rent assistance program for low-income families facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID Rent Relief Program provides eligible households with a one-time rental subsidy, which is paid directly to landlords and housing providers. The subsidy covers the difference between the household’s rent burden on March 1, 2020, and the increase in rent burden up until the time the resident is applying for assistance. Households can apply for the subsidy for up to four months in rental assistance from April through July. Tenants are not required to repay the rental subsidy.
In order to qualify for the program, tenants must meet the following requirements:
- The tenant must be a renter with a primary residence in New York State, renting a single-family home, apartment, manufactured home, or manufactured home lot.
- Before March 1, 2020, and at the time of application, the tenant’s household income (including unemployment benefits) must be below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, adjusted for household size. Applicants can find the Area Median Income for their county, based on household size, on HCR’s website here.
- Before March 1, 2020, and at the time of application, the household must have been “rent burdened,” which is defined as paying more than 30 percent of gross monthly income towards rent.
- Applicants must have lost income during any period between April 1, 2020, and July 31, 2020.
- The application period will be open for two weeks. Residents can apply any time during the two-week period. The application can be found here starting on July 16, 2020.
- Applicants must have at least one household member who is a U.S. Citizen, or who has eligible immigration status.
- Tenants who receive a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher for housing costs or who reside in public housing are not eligible for the COVID Rent Relief Program.
Applicants with the greatest social and economic need will be prioritized, based on income rent burden, risk of homelessness, and percent of income lost as a result of COVID-19. In addition to the Rent Relief Program, Governor Cuomo has also prohibited COVID-related residential or commercial evictions and allowed renters facing financial hardship due to the pandemic to use their security deposits to pay rent temporarily.
Governor Cuomo stated, “Since day one we made it clear that no New Yorkers should be thrown on the streets because of hardships caused by this pandemic. It’s critically important that people are able to stay safely in their homes as we progress through our data-driven, phased reopening, and the COVID Rent Relief Program reinforces that commitment with direct assistance to those in the greatest need.”
State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Chair of the Senate Housing Committee and prime sponsor of the legislation behind the Rent Relief program stated, “ Since this pandemic started, New York has fought back hard to save lives and keep people safe, but we haven’t done nearly enough for the many New Yorkers who have been struggling to pay rent and stay in their homes. While we need a lot more funding to cover a much wider range of people, including those currently homeless and those whose immigration status makes it difficult to access other forms of assistance, this program is an important first step toward supporting New Yorkers in need of relief.”
Cityland is continuing to provide coverage of New York’s reopening and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For further coverage, click here.
By: Victoria Agosta (Victoria is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)