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New York state requests $1.6 billion in additional federal funding for emergency rental assistance


Thu, Jan 27th 2022 06:55 pm

Request to U.S. Department of Treasury in upcoming reallocation round would cover 174,000 unfunded applications from tenants deemed eligible for assistance

√ More than $2 billion in rental assistance already obligated or paid, covering roughly 166,000 applications to the program, including 109,000 direct payments to landlords

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday announced New York state requested an additional $1.6 billion from the U.S. Treasury Department to help fulfill the significant unmet need among struggling tenants and landlords who have applied for Emergency Rental Assistance. Under Hochul's direction, the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance – the agency that administers the program – made the formal request ahead of the next round of federal rent relief reallocation. If granted, the funding would cover roughly 174,000 tenant applications that are not yet funded.

"We delivered nearly $1.4 billion for renters struggling from the pandemic, but we must do more. New York state continues to demonstrate a large need for this federal funding," Hochul said. "Our appeal to the Treasury to reexamine its reallocation formula to prioritize high-tenant states like New York represents the latest in our continued and vigorous advocacy for those still reeling from the financial impact of the pandemic. We need to ensure that all eligible tenants and landlords are able to tap into this critical assistance."

Hochul's team said that, under her leadership, “New York state has streamlined and accelerated the distribution of rent relief funds. As a result, more than 166,000 households were protected from eviction, and nearly $1.4 billion distributed to landlords via 109,000 direct payments.

“After fully exhausting initial funds for this program, the state requested $996 million in reallocation funding from the Treasury Department, or about enough to cover about 70,000 unfunded applications. Yet the Treasury Department provided New York with only an additional $27 million – enough to fund less than 2,000 applications.”

Earlier this month, New York, California, New Jersey and Illinois sent a joint letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to request additional federal funding and ensure high-need states with large tenant populations are prioritized. Since November, these four states have expended a combined $5.4 billion in assistance – nearly 12% of the total $45.5 billion in federal rent relief spread between all states – helping to stabilize more than 625,000 households.

OTDA Acting Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz said, "Unquestionably, there is significant unmet need for more rent relief in New York. Without substantial additional federal funding, tens of thousands of tenants will be left without assistance. If fulfilled, this funding request to the Treasury Department will take a large step toward meeting this need and ensuring our state's rent relief program can continue to help struggling New Yorkers at risk of housing instability. Gov. Hochul has made this program a priority of her administration, which has placed New York state in prime position to receive additional funding reallocated by the federal government."

In addition to spearheading changes to ERAP, Hochul has made $100 million in state-funded rent supplements available for localities, committed $125 million to households previously ineligible for ERAP based on income, signed an increase in rental voucher amounts into law, and authorized $125 million to help landlords with tenants who have declined to participate in ERAP or vacated with arrears.

The governor's fiscal year 2023 budget includes $35 million for legal services and representation for eviction cases outside of New York City, building on $25 million in legal assistance that was announced late last year.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said, "I strongly urge the administration to promptly direct additional rental aid to New York, as Congress intended, from the unused funds we have already appropriated. New York remains on the frontlines this pandemic, and our tenants suffer from a double whammy: being hit hardest by COVID and paying some of the highest rents. That is why I championed and delivered billions in aid that went directly to tenants and building owners to prevent mass evictions, and homelessness, and overwhelming debt – and why the unused portions of this relief needs to be directed to high-needs areas like New York ASAP."

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins said, "This additional funding would help address the backlog of outstanding requests for assistance, supporting renters and landlords during this difficult time."

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