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Niagara County DSS says rental assistance program now open

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Tue, Jun 1st 2021 04:35 pm

The Niagara County Department of Social Services announced the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is now accepting applications to help low and moderate-income households who are behind in their rent payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Niagara County received approximately $10 million in federal rental assistance aid that will be administered through ERAP.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted our social infrastructure in many ways, including the ability of families to pay their rent,” said Meghan Lutz, Niagara County Social Services commissioner. “This can put families on the brink of homelessness, something that we hope ERAP will prevent.

Lutz said renters must apply to the program. Approved applicants may receive up to 12 months of rental arrears payments for rents accrued on or after March 13, 2020. An additional three months of additional rental assistance for future rent may be available if the household spends 30% or more of its gross monthly income to pay for rent. Payments will be made directly to the landlord/property owner on behalf of the tenant.

“This isn’t only about helping the renters, but also helping landlords, many of who are small, local operations that cannot pay their own bills and mortgages with so many renters behind,” Lutz said. “This creates a cascading impact across our economy that we can hopefully mitigate.”

Tenants in New York may be eligible for ERAP if all the following apply:

√ Household gross income is at or below 80% of the area median income (AMI). These income limits differ by county and household size. A household may qualify based on either current monthly income or calendar year 2020 income that is at or below 80% AMI.

√ On or after March 13, 2020, a member of the household received unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or experienced other financial hardship, directly or indirectly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

√ The applicant is obligated to pay rent and has rental arrears (rent overdue) at their current residence for rent owed on or after March 13, 2020.

√ The household is at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which can be demonstrated by having rental arrears owed on or after March 13, 2020.

For more information on income guidelines, eligibility and a link for applying, visit https://www.niagaracounty.com/socialservices/Programs/Emergency-Rental-Assistance.

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