OTDA Now Accepting Emergency Rental Assistance Applications
New York State’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) recently started accepting applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The most recent federal stimulus program has funded the program with $2.7 billion.
Why it matters: The available assistance is significant. And according to state officials, the program is expected to serve between 170,000 and 200,000 households. Also, undocumented immigrants can apply, because the criteria state that individuals do not need to have lawful immigration status to qualify.
Those who are eligible can apply for up to 12 months in back rent and up to three months of future rent payments, as well as up to 12 months of overdue electric or gas bill payments. The money is provided directly to landlords and utility companies on the renter’s behalf.
What’s happening: It's up to the renter to apply for the assistance, though owners can start the process on their behalf. Those who are eligible should act fast because once the funding is depleted, the program will end.
Until the end of June, New York will prioritize certain applicants to ensure they get assistance first. Here's the order in which applications will be processed, according to the state law creating the rental program:
- Households with income that's at or below 50 percent of the Area Median Income and a household member who has been unemployed for the last 90 days; is a veteran; is experiencing domestic violence or has survived human trafficking; has an eviction case pending; resides in a mobile home; lives in a ZIP code that was hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19; or lives in a building with 20 or fewer units.
- Households with income at or below 50 percent of the Area Median Income.
- Households with income at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income and a household member who meets one of the criteria listed in No. 1.
- Households with income at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income.
After the prioritization period, assuming there is still funding left, applications will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis.
What you need to know: To be eligible for rent or utility assistance under the state's program, renters have to meet three main criteria:
- The household gross income has to be at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, which varies by county and household size. Renters can use either their current monthly income or their 2020 annual income to apply. OTDA has a handy income eligibility chart.
- Someone in the household must have received unemployment benefits or experienced some sort of reduction in income or another financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic on or after March 13, 2020.
- The renter has overdue rent at their residence for payments that were owed on or after March 13, 2020. The renter can use this to prove he or she is at risk of housing instability or homelessness.
Renters and owners can apply online at nysrenthelp.otda.ny.gov, or by calling 1-844-NY1-RENT (1-844-691-7368) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.