Where’s the Relief?

According to the US Census data collection from August 4–August 16, 2021; Over 3.5M think they are within two months away from eviction. This survey could just be showing the tip of the iceberg.

Updated on September 2, 2021 — to inform that Governor Hochul signed legislation to extend the NYS Eviction Moratorium to January 15, 2022

On August 27, NYC Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants tweeted, “NYers should apply to ERAP now! If you apply to pay back-rent, your eviction case in Housing Court will be put on hold until your application has been reviewed. If approved, you’ll receive additional protections.”

ERAP is short for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which provides up to a year of rent paid back, a year of utility bills, and 3-months of future rent if a tenant experienced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic (on or after March 13, 2020), among other eligibility terms. Immigration status is not an eligibility requirement.

However, patience is a key necessity as in the past there have been issues with applying for ERAP. Elected officials have been voicing their concerns about the lag in getting the funding to the people who need assistance.

“The critical thing at this point is that the system be able to accept applications and that applicants get proper notice of their status and obviously, ultimately that they push a much larger portion of this money out the door if possible.” 

NYS Senator Brian Kavanagh

“New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) was intended to distribute $2.7 billion in federal money to landlords for COVID-19 back-rent.  So far, the program has distributed an inadequate number of checks, and can take hours or even longer to apply if applicants encounter the nearly inevitable technical glitches,” NYS Senator Salazar said. “It is extremely disheartening that thousands of tenants still haven’t been able to receive the crucial aid that they need to make rent payments amid the ongoing pandemic. We must do everything we can to ensure that our residents have access to the ERAP funds as soon as possible to alleviate some of the financial burdens that have been placed on families across our state.”

NYS Senator Brian Kavanagh who serves as the Chair for the Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development was interviewed on The Capitol Pressroom, August 25, 2021podcast.   “The agency is making some progress, but there’s still significant problems that need to be resolved,” he said early on.  He also mentioned there was a diminishment of some restrictions and documentation requirements, “Some of the steps should be helpful. But we are still seeing significant concerns of how the program is rolling, and of course lots of landlords and tenants have become frustrated because of delays. … . The critical thing at this point is that the system be able to accept applications and that applicants get proper notice of their status and obviously, ultimately that they push a much larger portion of this money out the door if possible.”  He stated that tenants who have been judged to be eligible are protected from eviction or the landlord going after them for money.  The landlord will receive the money from the state, but they also need to fill out their portion of the application.  Another problem Kavanagh mentioned was that many tenants and landlords don’t know about this funding to even apply for it.

“It is my goal to extend the eviction moratorium to expand rental assistance programs from today [September 1] to January 15. We also know that landlords are struggling and we need to make sure that small businesses are protected as well, and that’s why I will be starting today, and I’ll be signing the proclamation momentarily.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul

Also on August 25, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that speeding up the distribution of COVID-19 rent relief is one of her first priorities.  After the US Supreme Court threw salt on the wound by throwing out the CDC’s latest extension of the eviction moratorium, Hochul published a statement on August 27 saying, “The Supreme Court’s appalling and insensitive ruling eliminates a key line of defense for tenants, and we are exploring all options to protect New Yorkers from eviction.” She mentioned all New Yorkers who apply to the rent relief program will be protected while their application is pending. “More than $800M has already been disbursed or is ready for landlords to accept on behalf of their tenants. More than $1B remains available for relief and resources are available through community organizations to help New Yorkers apply, receive eviction protection, and pay their rent.”

Then on August 31, Hochul stated she would call a session of the NYS legislature to convene on September 1st. “It is my goal to extend the eviction moratorium to expand rental assistance programs from today [September 1] to January 15. We also know that landlords are struggling and we need to make sure that small businesses are protected as well, and that’s why I will be starting today, and I’ll be signing the proclamation momentarily.” On September 2, Hochul signed NYS Senate Bill S50001/ NY Assembly Bill A40001 into law. This legislation extends protection from eviction to January 15, 2022

Out of 8,088,694 surveyed: 1,292,008 were very likely and 2,219,048 were somewhat likely to leave their current home due to eviction in the next two months — that is 43.4% of the population sample (those 18 years or older in renter occupied units who are behind on their rent) or in other words 3,511,056 people feel they are in danger of being homeless in two months.

US CENSUS DATA collected from August 4–August 16, 2021

Assembly Member Maritza Davila said, “The purpose of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) was created to help families that experienced financial hardship pay rent, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the program presented many anomalies that attributed towards the delay in the system pertaining to issues such as glitches, being unable to save pertinent information mid-way through the application – thus making families feel extremely discouraged throughout the process. Applications are increasingly high, and the significant delays are unacceptable as many families wait for this crucial financial relief. We have much more to do and we will not leave our families behind.”

“The crisis facing tenants has been clear from day one of the pandemic. In response, we secured billions of dollars in federal and state resources to provide emergency relief. But outgoing Governor Cuomo completely ignored the implementation, refusing even to speak with his Commissioner in charge of distributing the funds. New York is now shamefully behind the rest of the nation in providing housing aid and the eviction moratorium expires in days. I am hopeful the new administration in Albany will quickly speed up payments but we cannot take anything for granted. The legislature must reconvene to extend the eviction moratorium immediately,” said Assembly Member Emily Gallagher.

The New York Times reported that as of July only 11% of the ERAP funds have been distributed.  The US Census released data collected from August 4–August 16, 2021 that examines how the pandemic is affecting people’s lives.  Some samples point to the potential of an eviction crisis within two months.  One chart titled, “Likelihood of Having to Leave this House in Next Two Months Due to Eviction” shows that out of 8,088,694 surveyed: 1,292,008 were very likely and 2,219,048 were somewhat likely to leave their current home due to eviction in the next two months — those two numbers combined add up to 43.4% of the population sample (those 18 years or older in renter occupied units who are behind on their rent) or in other words 3,511,056 people feel they are in danger of being homeless in two months.

Senator Salazar tweeted, “Cannot sufficiently express how urgent it is—especially after the Supreme Court’s bad decision last night—that the state legislature reconvene to pass new legislation that would keep people in their homes and protect New Yorkers from eviction.”

In the meantime, there is ERAP relief and the Excluded Workers Fund (EWF) for some who can’t collect ERAP.  For ERAP apply on the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance website .  For EWF apply on the Department of Labor’s Exclude Worker’s Fund webpage.

If you require help applying to either contact St. Nicks Alliance at 718-388-9190 ext. 673.

Author: The Greenline

Your monthly source for North Brooklyn community news covering Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. Currently 13,000 copies are distributed throughout the community free of charge.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s