As eviction moratorium winds down, Hochul gears up to help renters and landlords

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(WIVB) — Roughly $2.7 billion in state and federal funding is set up for New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), but only a fraction of that money has been distributed. So, Gov. Kathy Hochul is reportedly shifting the program into high gear. Thousands of New Yorkers could be affected and social service agencies are kicking it up a notch, too.

“I want the money out now, I want it out with no more excuses and delays.”

Within hours of taking over the reins of state government, Hochul made it crystal clear she is not at all satisfied with the pace emergency rental assistance is getting out. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers could lose their homes due to COVID-19 complications, but the rental assistance program can stop that. Hochul is adding people to process applications and insists the state will do better.

“New Yorkers should know, if you apply and qualify for this money, you will be protected from eviction for a solid year. Let me repeat, if you apply and qualify, you will not be evicted for a year,” she said.

Once the ERAP application is filed, an eviction proceeding is frozen, but tenants and landlords have to work together to receive emergency assistance for up to a year. “It is important for housing providers who have not been able to collect rent now for many months, and it is important for tenants who are experiencing a significant loss of housing stability,” said Grace Andriette of Neighborhood Legal Services.

Some high-need cities and counties are getting additional assistance, including Buffalo, which received $50 million for housing assistance to cover back rent and utility bills. Mayor Byron Brown calls the program “Stand Up Buffalo,” to help tenants and their landlords.

“The rental assistance that they need, able to get the utility payment assistance that they need and that landlords whose tenants have not been able to pay, get the assistance for their tenants that they need, so that they can recoup that money,” Brown said.

New York’s moratorium on evictions runs out Tuesday, August 31. A federal moratorium is in place until October 3, but it is on shaky ground in the courts.

For help applying for ERAP, call the 211 information line.

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