Affordable housing industry pitches $2B rent-aid fund

Trade group proposes better version of ERAP; Legal Aid in support

From left: New York State Association for Affordable Housing's Jolie Milstein and Governor of New York Kathy Hochul (Getty, Up For Growth)
From left: New York State Association for Affordable Housing's Jolie Milstein and Governor of New York Kathy Hochul (Getty,

New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program blew up on landlords, but advocates are pushing for a better version of it, specifically for affordable units.

The New York State Association for Affordable Housing proposed $2 billion in new rental assistance to help landlords largely sidelined by the original Covid-era program, City & State reported. The trade group is lobbying state officials for the money.

“A lot of the affordable housing and all of the public housing tenants either didn’t apply because they didn’t think they were eligible, or applied and were put in a pile on the side,” Jolie Milstein, CEO of the association, told the publication.

The Tenant Fund for Affordable Housing would only apply to buildings and landlords with regulatory agreements with the city or state. The fund would give landlords several options.

They could apply for assistance without a tenant agreement and get up to six months of arrears without having to grant an eviction moratorium. Another option offers tenants full or partial forgiveness of back rent with eviction protections agreed upon between tenant and landlord.

A third choice covers a third of up to one year’s overdue rent, while the landlord forgives a third and the tenant pays the other third.

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The Legal Aid Society, which represents tenants in eviction cases, supports the fund, which means the choice for politicians is not about pleasing or upsetting an interest group, but about whether to spend the money for such a program.

The proposal calls for $500 million for public housing tenants, which could cover the large hole in the New York City Housing Authority’s budget caused by unpaid rent during the pandemic.

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The state’s bankrupt Emergency Rental Assistance Program shuttered in January — to the relief of landlords, because it was granting eviction protection to applicants without providing any rent aid.

Landlords are considering suing the state to recover damages inflicted by the program.

Holden Walter-Warner