$68M in Rent Supplements for Struggling Renters in NYC

A new state law that will boost rental subsidies to thousands of struggling New York City families living in shelters or at risk of eviction has been signed into law, taking effect immediately. With the bill's signing, Governor Hochul announced $100 million is available for counties to help homeless individuals and families leave the shelter system for a permanent home by providing rental assistance. The funds may also help very low-income New Yorkers pay their rent and increase their housing security.

The New York State Rental Supplement Program will be administered by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), and it will provide funding to localities in all 57 counties and New York City.

The context: For many years, the Family Homelessness and Eviction Protection Supplement (FHEPS) subsidy program has provided monthly rental subsidies to New York City families who are in shelters or at risk of homelessness because of a pending eviction. The subsidies maxed out at 85 percent of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Fair Market Rate,” which HUD sets annually for each metropolitan area in the country. For the current fiscal year, in New York City, the Fair Market Rate for a two-bedroom apartment is set at $2,026, or $304 higher than the 85 percent level.

Under the new state law, the maximum amount of the state rental vouchers will increase to 100 percent of the Fair Market Rate. Each county or locality must opt into the program and submit a distribution plan to OTDA. Counties may choose to directly administer their allocation or delegate it to another public agency, contractor, or nonprofit organization. 

With the new law, the rental supplement amounts will be funded at 85 percent of the local fair market rent values, with localities having the option to pay up to 100 percent by using local funds. A household receiving the supplement will contribute no more than 30 percent of their total earned income toward their monthly rent. The supplement can be used for forthcoming rental payments only, with local social service districts determining coverage for arrears, which can be paid only with local funds.

The bottom line: This rental supplement program is now the primary state-funded rental assistance program available for New Yorkers who are struggling to pay their rent. And it comes just as the state's eviction moratorium is set to expire in a month, on Jan. 15, 2022.

Adopted as part of the FY 2022 budget, the program is providing nearly $68 million for New York City, and more than $32 million to all other counties throughout the state. Counties will have the flexibility to develop a program that meets the needs of their underserved populations.   

The measure essentially increases a monthly subsidy by a few hundred dollars a month, making more families eligible for the program while making it easier for thousands of people at risk of homelessness to take advantage of the program.

Households seeking the rent supplement may earn no more than 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) to be eligible, with initial priority given to those earning 30 percent or less. Half of the supplements are earmarked for families or individuals that are in shelters or experiencing homelessness, and the program is available to all eligible households, regardless of their immigration status.