From bad to worse: Rent relief program still failing to reach New Yorkers

Barely 1 percent of tenants owing rent have received aid in second round

Assembly member Zohran Mamdani (iStock, NYS Assembly)
Assembly member Zohran Mamdani (iStock, NYS Assembly)

New York City’s rent relief program is reaching few of the 800,000 to 1.2 million households that collectively owe more than $2 billion in rent.

New York has paid out just $7 million out of $60 million available for struggling tenants, Gothamist reported. And though the second round was meant to be more accessible, only about 1,000 households qualified for aid out of 87,000 applications.

Between the two rounds of funding, $47 million has been awarded to 16,000 households — about 16 percent of the total applications received since September.

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“What we have to do is meet the actual needs of New Yorkers,” Assembly member Zohran Mamdani, whose office released the data, told Gothamist. “And what this program did was nowhere close to that.”

Advocates criticize the program’s stringent requirements, such as requiring applicants to prove they made less than 80 percent of the area median income and paid more than 30 percent of their income towards rent before April 2020.

State Sen. Brian Kavanagh and other lawmakers have since proposed a program that would pay up to 12 months of rental arrears and utility bills, funded by $1.3 billion from the federal emergency rent assistance program, unused money from the state’s previous rent relief program and the most recent stimulus package.

[Gothamist] — Sasha Jones