Tenants Get $40M in COVID-19 Rent Relief from State

New York State’s Division of Homes and Community Renewal recently issued a report on the status of the state’s COVID-19 rent relief program. Nearly $40 million will be distributed to more than 15,000 households through the program. This includes $23.2 million already distributed and about $16.8 million in currently pending payments.

In May, the New York State Legislature passed the Emergency Rent Relief Act of 2020 to assist a subset of low-income renters in New York impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The DHCR was charged with administering the COVID rent relief program, which provides a one-time subsidy for tenants who lost income due to the pandemic. Designed to reach households with the greatest need, the rental assistance subsidy covers the difference between the household’s rent burden on March 7, 2020, and the increase in rent burden for the period the household is applying for assistance. Households were eligible to apply for up to four months of rental assistance.

The report includes breakdowns of payment information by county, by average payment amount, and disbursements made by race/ethnicity. The report is available online here.

The report also highlights the agency’s efforts to promote the program to ensure assistance would be provided to those who needed it most. The agency made concerted efforts before launching the program and throughout the application period to reach non-English speaking New Yorkers. The program’s online application was available in both English and Spanish, and HCR provided translated applications in six foreign languages: Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Haitian-Creole, Korean, and Bengali. HCR’s website also provided tenants who speak these languages with supplemental materials such as frequently asked questions, attestations, and other program documents. Similarly, applicants were offered the opportunity to fill out a paper application if they lacked access to the Internet.