ALBANI, NY (NEWS10) – New York’s Emergency Rent Relief Program reopened on Tuesday. The Association for Legal Aid urged tenants to sign up for the program. However, the agency for temporary and disability assistance said the state may not have the funding.
ERAP is designed to provide pandemic rental relief and temporary eviction protection. The portal was initially closed in November because New York ran out of available funds.
In December, the Legal Aid Society sued OTDA, arguing that closing ERAP to new applicants before all funds had been exhausted violated OTDA’s duties and exceeded its legal powers. Judge Lynn Kotler of the State Supreme Court, 1st Judicial District, on January 6 issued a preliminary injunction ordering the state reopen the application portal.
“After our initial funds for this program were completely exhausted, New York State requested nearly $1 billion in reallocation funds from the U.S. Treasury — but received only $27 million, a sliver of what would be needed to cover existing applications, let alone new ones,” said OTDA.
OTDA said New York will join other states by sending a joint letter to US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen asking for additional federal funding for the housing benefit.
“Reopening the application portal without additional funding to support the backlog of existing and future applications risks giving struggling New Yorkers false hopes of critical financial aid that—without federal intervention—just doesn’t exist,” OTDA said.
Since its inception, ERAP has paid $1.25 billion in rent owed to 100,000 families and approved an additional $770 million for 62,000 families whose landlords have not yet completed the paperwork needed to release the payments, according to the Legal Aid society.
The Legal Aid Society said that while the state has already issued or committed all of its current ERAP funds, it will be eligible to apply for additional funding in the spring from a national pool of $18 billion of unspent ERAP funds.
“We urge all New Yorkers in need of housing benefit to immediately apply for funds through the OTDA web portal, as a pending application provides temporary protection against eviction, whether or not the state receives additional funding. We are proud of our advocacy on behalf of our clients and all low-income New Yorkers, and will continue to monitor the implementation of the statewide rental aid funds,” said Ed Josephson, Supervising Attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society. .
To apply for the program, click here.
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