ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Amid lawmakers’ calls to release funds from New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday announced a streamlined application process.
The new ERAP process relaxes documentation standards for both tenants and landlords effective Tuesday, according to the governor’s office. Over 1,000 dedicated staff and 350 volunteers are also slated to help clear close to 5,000 pending cases by next Tuesday, August 3.
Cuomo’s office said the new process will help the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) select viable applications by next Saturday, August 7. Over 150,000 applications have reportedly been submitted so far.
According to Cuomo, OTDA will be current with payments for all pending, verified applications by Tuesday, August 31.
“The COVID pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on New Yorkers all across the State, and they need rental assistance now,” Cuomo said in a written statement. “The $2.7 billion Rental Assistance Program is already providing funding to some of our most vulnerable residents who were prioritized during the first 30 days of the application process, and now we must focus on delivering funds to the remaining applicants. To streamline this process, I’ve directed OTDA to work with their vendor to disburse payments as quickly and efficiently as possible we can deliver billions of dollars in rental assistance to New Yorkers who have been struggling to pay rent due to no fault of their own.”
ERAP comprises $2.7 billion in emergency rental assistance available for those impacted by the pandemic with up to 12 months of past-due rent, 3 months of prospective rental assistance, and 12 months of utility arrears payments. Officials expect the program to provide aid to up to 200,000 households. ERAP also provides tenant protections, requiring landlords to waive late fees, keep rents steady, and not evict in order to receive assistance.
Funding comes from $2.6 billion in federal resources and $100 million from the state. One goal of the process is a collaboration between local governments and OTDA to coordinate their resources to raise awareness of the funds and prevent fraud in the application process.
(R) Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, 132nd Assembly District, said this streamlined process is good news, but it is long overdue.
“We have to get that funding out the door. It’s been far too long,” said Assemblyman Palmesano. “The people paying the price for that are obviously one: the landlords who own the property. They haven’t received any rental payments for 16 to 17 months now. Obviously, the other people that are concerned are the tenants. Maybe they haven’t been paying rent over this whole period of time and yes they are facing possible eviction.”
The eviction moratorium for New York State is set to expire on August 31, 2021.