ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas announced the COVID Rent Relief Program will be reopened for applications with expanded eligibility criteria in an effort to serve New Yorkers who may not have been able to apply initially and/or those who were previously ineligible.

HCR will accept applications from households starting at 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 18 through Monday, Feb. 1, 2021.

“HCR is acutely aware that this pandemic has put more pressure on New Yorkers who were already housing insecure, and these improvements to the Legislature’s original program will expand access to rent relief while building on Governor Cuomo’s eviction protections,” Commissioner Visnauskas said. “We worked around the clock for months to ensure rent-burdened households received the assistance for which they qualified. But more can be done. Governor Cuomo has taken repeated action to protect residents from eviction and foreclosure, and as a long-time housing advocate, he understands that our efforts must be unending. Tenants need our support in order to offset the long-term implications of this public health and economic crisis.”

The Program’s eligibility was changed to no longer require households to be considered “rent burdened” prior to the pandemic in order to qualify. Rent burden is defined as paying more than 30% of monthly gross income towards rent.

Residents that previously applied for COVID Rent Relief will not have to reapply. HCR will re-evaluate all applications that were initially denied according to the new criteria and issue revised determination letters to applicants.

To qualify for this one-time subsidy, low-income renters impacted by the pandemic must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Must be a renter and have a primary residence in New York State
  • Applicants must have lost income during the period of April 1 to July 31
  • Before March 7, household income must have been at or below 80% the Area Median Income, adjusted for household size
  • Households must be “rent burdened” during the months they are applying for assistance between April 1 to July 31 

For the purposes of assessing applicant income, cash benefits and unemployment benefits are both included in the calculation.

The subsidy for eligible applicants will be calculated as: the difference between the household’s rent burden on March 1, 2020 and the household’s rent burden during the months of April, May, June and July of 2020. For applicants who were not considered rent burdened on March 1, 2020, the subsidy will be calculated to bring them to the 30 percent rent burden threshold.

Applications are available on the COVID Rent Relief Program online portal.

HCR will also allow to applicants who are unable or uncomfortable applying online to do so over the phone rather than by mail. More information on this assistance and expanded language support on the hotline and will be available on HCR’s website in the coming days.

Throughout the application period, residents who need help or have questions about their application can contact HCR’s COVID Rent Relief Program Call Center for assistance at 1-833-499-0318 or Call Center representatives are available Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.