New York’s rent relief fund may run dry Monday

Landlord group’s analysis shows at least 230K renters in need have not applied

New York’s rent relief fund may run dry Monday
CHIP executive director Jay Martin (Getty, iStock)

UPDATED Sept. 21, 2021, 6:11 p.m.: After weeks of warnings that New York’s rent debt would exceed the available relief, the doomsday predictions could be about to come true.

By Monday, the state will have approved $2.18 billion to 168,000 applicants. Taking administrative costs into consideration, the approved amount exceeds the total $2.15 billion available, according to estimates by landlord group Community Housing Improvement Program first reported by NY1.

In total, CHIP estimates the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program — known as ERAP — is short $3 billion at a minimum, given that approximately 230,000 to 280,000 renters have yet to apply for aid.

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OTDA Commissioner Michael Hein and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (OTDA, Facebook, iStock)
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The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which runs the program, said Tuesday that Gov. Kathy Hochul had sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen requesting additional funds to meet New York’s needs.

The governor noted that the current pool of emergency rental assistance would likely run out by early October.

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“New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program will continue to accept applications and issue payments for as long as funding remains available,” said OTDA spokesperson Anthony Farmer.

Distributions are also stalled. Of the $2.15 billion CHIP expects to be approved come Monday, a relative pittance has reached landlords.

Farmer said as of Tuesday, over $517 million has been distributed to property owners, about one-third of the $1.5 billion the program has approved.

CHIP blamed the program’s portal for the inability of OTDA to approve owners’ applications, contradicting the agency’s previous claim that the low level of dispersals was because of a lack of cooperation by landlords.

“The failure here is the government’s inability to set up an application system that quickly and accurately matches renters’ applications with their property owner,” said Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, in a statement.

This story has been updated with comments and data from the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.