Rent Relief Reopened

Thanks to a class-action lawsuit led by the Legal Aid Society, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is back up and running as of Tuesday, January 11, 2022.

State Supreme Court Judge Lynn Kotler ruled that the state must reopen ERAP applications to the public.

Rolando Guzman, Dep. Director of Community Preservation at St. Nicks Alliance said that the organization is happy about the court ruling. “We hope that the state gets funding so they are able to assist the applicants,” he said. “If a tenant files an ERAP application, that will delay their eviction process.”

The news came at a great time, right before end of the eviction moratorium on January 15. However, one issue that comes with the decision is that there is still a lack of funds for the program since its halt in November, which could negatively affect homeowners.

While Governor Kathy Hochul and other officials have pushed for $1B in additional ERAP funding, the U.S. Treasury Department has only provided $27M so far. This means that applications will reopen with no guarantee that ERAP will receive funding to fulfill the needs of all eligible applicants.

In her order, Judge Lynn Kotler said that reopening the application will at least allow renters to continue to get eviction protections even though they would technically be waitlisted with the application still pending.

Senator Brian Kavanaugh said that while he cannot comment on the legal merits of the lawsuit, he agrees in principle with the reopening of the ERAP portal as these pending applications may be the only eviction protections in place after January 15.

“The only way to determine the full need of rent relief in New York is to continue to process applications to determine eligibility,” he said. “I thank the Legal Aid Society for taking this forceful action to compel the state to reopen the ERAP application process and for championing the rights of tenants across our state.”

A spokesperson for the Office of Temporary and Disability Administration (OTDA) told CBS 6 Albany: “The court’s ruling is under review and the agency will respond accordingly.”

ERAP can protect from eviction, rent hikes, cover up to 12 months of past-due rent —and for some households up to 3 months of future rent. You can apply for rental aid at otda.ny.gov and call the St. Nicks Alliance Community Preservation at 718-388-9190 Ext. 660 for application assistance.

After the Eviction Moratorium expired, NYC Council Member Lincoln Restler posted a video on January 17, where he stated, “We’re going to be pushing for major legislation in the council to ensure that every tenant, no matter their income status, has access to a free attorney to help them stay in their home if they are facing eviction. And we are going to be pushing with everything we can for the state legislature to pass Good Cause Eviction.”

Author: Kassondra Gonzalez

Communications Associate and Contributor of the Greenline.

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