Lawmakers urge stage agency to open emergency rental assistance apps

Despite $ 2.4 billion allocated to it in this year’s budget in early April, New York’s emergency rental assistance program is still not accepting applicants.

State lawmakers Sean Ryan and Bill Conrad are urging the State Office of Temporary Disability to open the program in time for the June 1 rent payment.

Chris Burton, who manages more than two dozen rental units in the city of Buffalo with his wife Allison, said that with the pandemic hardships tenants were facing, it had been a difficult time for both sides.

“We really believe in what we do to make housing people proud. We’ve certainly felt the tension and been stuck in the middle for the last few months with some of our people not being able to afford the rent due to their hardships, ”Burton said. We have done everything on our side to ensure that the utilities continue to function, that the mortgages are covered. It has certainly been a struggle, we depend on paying the rent every month. We are simply looking for a change and a way forward. “

The money is there, the agency is there, all it takes is state regulation to distribute it. This is State Senator Ryan’s message on launching a rent relief program in New York City. He said the program is designed to help middle and working class renters and their landlords, who in Buffalo are often not millionaires themselves.

“We all know the history of Buffalo, it’s not uncommon for teachers, firefighters or county employees to have one or two,” Ryan said. “They’re doing it [renting] a part-time job often to get money for tuition or to supplement their salary a bit. But these are not people with big, deep pockets. These are people where if a tenant misses a few months of rent, you know, they’ll feel it themselves.

Assembly member Conrad said the State Office for Temporary Disabled People, which has been tasked with administering the emergency rental assistance program, must start opening applications before a housing crisis does occur.

“The state has issued a moratorium on evictions, hoping to ease the pressure on tenants who suddenly found themselves out of work through no fault of their own,” Conrad said. “But we can’t ignore the consequences this is having on homeowners, especially those here in western New York, many of whom are investing in a property or two to supplement their income or prepare for retirement.”

New York has put in place moratoriums on evictions for much of the pandemic, with the latest set to expire in August.

Moratoriums on evictions do not mean rent is suspended, it continues to accumulate over time, and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program is designed to pay off that debt. Tenants apply for assistance in conjunction with their landlord, and funding is provided based on the tenant’s income level covering up to 12 months of past due rent.

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