COVID-19 RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an emergency rental assistance program to help keep low-income families throughout New York in their homes. The program, designed to reach individuals and families with the greatest need, will provide direct aid for tenants who lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which is part of the CARES Act and is administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal. Applications will be available for a 2 week period only commencing Thursday, July 16.
Under the new program, eligible households will benefit from a one-time rental subsidy paid directly to landlords and housing providers. The remaining balance of the monthly rent is still payable by the tenant to the landlord, as it regularly would be. HCR anticipates sending payments to landlords by the end of the summer. Once an applicant has been selected to receive assistance, they will be notified simultaneously along with their landlord that the subsidy is being dispersed. This notification will include the amount of assistance, the timeline for receipt, and the method the tenant has chosen to have additional funds credited to tenant, if the tenant has already paid some or all of his/her rent.
To qualify for the program, applicants must meet all of the eligibility requirements:
- Must be a renter with a primary residence in New York State.
- Before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, household income* (including unemployment benefits) must be below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, adjusted for household size. (The Area Median Income for the various counties, based on household size, may be found on HCR’s website – (https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/07/crrp2020_eligible_income_80ami.pdf.)
- Before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, the household must have been “rent burdened,” which is defined as paying more than 30 percent of gross monthly income towards rent.
- Applicants must have lost income during any period between April 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020.
*Under the statute, income includes salaries, wages, tips, recurring gifts, unemployment benefits and other government benefits for all members of a household. This also includes Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PAC). Households do not have to include employment income for minor children under 18 years old, or for children who are 18 or older and full-time students. Households also do not have to include foster care payments or supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits (SNAP).
In order to establish household’s eligibility for the Coronavirus Rent Relief Program, tenants will need to provide the following documentation:
- Copy of a lease or other proof of monthly rental amount (Note: month to month tenants are eligible for assistance as long as they qualify under the eligibility criteria and can provide proof of a rental obligation);
- Proof of the household’s gross income prior to March 1, 2020 and at present. This includes, but is not limited to paystubs, employer letters, and federal/state tax returns.
HCR will prioritize households with greatest economic and social need, accounting for income, rent burden, percent of income lost and risk of homelessness. The rental assistance payment will cover the difference between the household’s rent burden on March 1, 2020 and the increase in rent burden during the period the household is applying for assistance.* Households can apply for up to four months in rental assistance for the months of April through July.
*Example: Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, your monthly household income was $2,000. Your monthly rent is $700. This means that on March 1, 2020, your rent burden was 35%. Today, due to a reduction in hours, your monthly income has decreased to $1,400 and your rent remains the same. You are now paying 50% of your monthly income toward rent. You would be eligible for a subsidy that covers the 15% (50% – 35%) increase in your rent burden, or $210. This subsidy would get you back to your pre-March 1, 2020 rent burden of 35%.
There is a cap on the subsidy amount that can be received. For the purposes of calculating assistance, a tenant’s monthly contractual rent may not exceed 125% of the fair market rent per month for each month assistance is requested.* Fair market rents are calculated by HUD, and can be located at the following link: https://www.hcr.ny.gov/rent-caps-125-fmr-crrp
* Example: A resident living in a one-bedroom in Nassau County and pays $2,100 a month in rent. The fair market rent for a one-bedroom in this county is $1,624. This household is still eligible for the subsidy, however, when their subsidy is calculated it will reflect a rent cap of $2,030, which is 125% of the fair market rent.
If a household is selected to receive Coronavirus Rent Relief, and they have already paid all or a portion of their rent, they may choose to have their landlord treat the relief as pre-payment of rent for one or more months beginning August 1, 2020. The household may also choose to have the landlord apply the payment to a security deposit if it was used it to pay rent.
Households with at least one household member with U.S. Citizenship or eligible immigration status are qualified to receive the subsidy. Tenants currently receiving a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher for housing costs or who reside in public housing are not eligible for assistance. Tenants will be asked to specify how they want their assistance to be applied at the time they submit their application.
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