“Apartment on Greenwich Village, NYC” | Photo by Spencer Means via Creative Commons 2.0
NEW YORK – The state’s COVID Rent Relief Program has reopened and it will accept new applications until Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, with revamped eligibility criteria that will no longer require households to have been considered “rent-burdened” prior to the pandemic. Rent burden is defined by Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) as paying more than 30% of monthly gross income towards rent.
The law, sponsored by NY Sen. Brian Kavanaugh, and passed by the Senate, was signed by the governor which established the program. It provides a one-time rent subsidy paid directly to landlords of applicant households. Applicants will not be required to repay this assistance.
The legislation aimed to distribute $100 million for rent relief for low-income New Yorkers who have suffered income loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are struggling to keep their families in their homes.
Residents who previously applied for rent relief will not have to reapply to be reconsidered. All applications previously denied will be re-evaluated according to the new criteria, and applicants will receive revised determination letters, according to HCR, which administers the program.
During the first round of the program, which was launched in 2020 with $100 million from the federal CARES Act, only $40 million was claimed due to restrictions in the eligibility rules and other factors that made it difficult for people to apply and qualify. The program has now been revised and expanded.
The Office of State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY), Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), and Chinatown Community Land Trust (CLT) have joined forces to offer multilingual assistance to applicants virtually by phone from now until the February 1st application deadline.
Sen. Kavanagh said: “I thank Asian American Bar Association of New York, Good Old Lower East Side, and the Chinatown Community Land Trust for their unwavering commitment to our communities and for their work to ensure that no one misses out on essential benefits or services because they lack assistance in their own language.”
To qualify, applicants must meet all of the eligibility requirements:
• You must be a renter with primary residence in New York State.
• Before March 7, 2020, and at the time of application, your household income (including unemployment benefits) must have been below 80% of the area median income, adjusted for household size. You can find your county’s area median income, based on your household size, here.
• Households must be “rent-burdened” during the months they are applying for assistance between April 1 to July 31, 2020. A household is rent-burdened if they are paying more than 30 percent of their income towards housing costs.
• You must have lost income during the period of April 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020.
The subsidy will be calculated in one of two ways. If a household was rent-burdened on March 1, 2020, the subsidy will be determined using the difference between the household’s rent burden on March 1 and its rent burden in April, May, June, and July of 2020.
For applicants who were not considered rent burdened on March 1, 2020, the subsidy will be calculated to bring them to the 30% rent burden threshold.
Cash benefits and unemployment benefits are included in the assessment of an applicant’s income.
For assistance, eligibility details and to access the application, visit the HCR website at https://hcr.ny.gov/RRP. Detailed information about the program, including eligibility criteria, the application process, the documents that will be requested as part of the application process, and answers to frequently answered questions are also available on HCR’s website.
Additionally, HCR is operating a special helpline to answer questions and provide assistance with the application process. For help, applicants can contact HCR’s COVID Rent Relief Extension Program Call Center for assistance at 1-833-499-0318 or email@example.com. Call Center representatives are available Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.