NEW YORK (WKBW) — The New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) was launched to provide assistance to New Yorkers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Administered by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the program opened for applications on June, 1 2021 and up to $2.7 billion in emergency rental assistance is available.
"The New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) will provide significant economic relief to help low and moderate-income households at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability by providing rental arrears, temporary rental assistance and utility arrears assistance," the program's website says.
To be eligible, New York residents must meet the following criteria:
- Household gross income is at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). These income limits differ by county and household size. A household may qualify based on current income or calendar year 2020 income that is at or below 80 percent AMI.
- On or after March 13, 2020, a member of the household received unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in income, incurred significant costs or experienced financial hardship, directly or indirectly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The applicant is obligated to pay rent at their primary residence and has rental arrears (rent overdue) at their current residence for rent owed on or after March 13, 2020.
- The household must be at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which can be demonstrated by having rental arrears owed on or after March 13, 2020.
- There are no immigration status requirements to qualify for the program.
- Households eligible for rental arrears may also be eligible for help paying utility arrears at the same rental unit.
- Applications for all eligible households will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as funds remain available.
Those who are approved for ERAP may receive:
- Up to 12 months of rental arrears payments for rents accrued on or after March 13, 2020.
- Up to 3 months of additional rental assistance if the household is expected to spend 30 percent or more of their gross monthly income to pay for rent.
- Up to 12 months of electric or gas utility arrears payments for arrears that have accrued on or after March 13, 2020.
- Payments will be made directly to the landlord/property owner and utility company on behalf of the tenant. Tenant applicants will be notified of the amounts paid on their behalf. If a landlord is difficult to locate or does not otherwise provide information needed to complete the application, funds will be held for up to 180 days to allow sufficient time to locate the landlord and collect required information as well as to provide tenant protections and maximize landlord participation.
Renters and landlords can apply, you will need to provide the following documents:
- Personal identification for primary applicant (individual signing application). Acceptable forms of identification include items such as: A photo ID, driver license or non-driver government-issued ID, passport, EBT/Benefits Issuance Card, birth certificate or school registration.
- Social Security number of any household members who have been issued one. Individuals do not need to have a lawful immigration status to qualify for the program.
- Proof of rental amount, signed lease, even if expired. If no lease is available then proof can be shown through a rent receipt, canceled check or money order. If no documentation is available, landlord attestation will be accepted.
- Proof of residency and occupancy – Signed lease, rent receipt, utility bill, school records, bank statement, postal mail with name of applicant, insurance bill, or driver license. Proof should be current.
- Proof of Income:
- Documents demonstrating monthly income for the prior month, such as pay stubs, bank account deposit verification, unemployment benefits letter, or other proof;OR
- Documents demonstrating annual income for 2020, such as a W-2 tax form from an employer, an annual statement of earnings, or a copy of a completed income tax return, such as a 1040, 1040EZ, 1099 tax form, or other evidence of 2020 annual income.
- Self-attestation through a written and signed statement of income is permitted in certain circumstances where no documentation is available such as certain self-employment.
- Copy of gas or electric utility bill, if applying for help paying for utility arrears at the same rental unit.
- Applicants will be asked to attest that on or after March 13, 2020, a member of the household received unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or experienced other financial hardship, directly or indirectly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The applicant will need to sign the application form and associated certifications agreeing that the information provided in the application is accurate.
- W-9 tax form by keying this information in the Owner Account on the ERAP portal.
- Executed lease with tenant applicant, or if there is no written lease, a cancelled check, evidence of funds transfer or other documentation of the last full monthly rent payment. Upload pages of lease to at least include unit address, tenants on lease, monthly rental obligation, and signature page.
- Documentation of rent due from tenant by uploading a monthly rent confirmation form or ledger identifying the rental amount due by month. Do not include non-rent payments such as late fees or parking fees.
- Banking information by keying in direct deposit information in the Owner Account on the ERAP portal.
- If applicable, the owner affidavit or signed agreement designating the property management company/agent as authorized recipient of ERAP funds.
- The property owner or an authorized property management company will be required to sign the application form and associated certifications agreeing that the information provided, including the amount of rental arrears owed, is accurate and does not duplicate a payment received from another program.
- The property owner or authorized property management company must also agree to the following terms as a condition of accepting rental arrears payments:
- The ERAP payment satisfies the tenant’s full rental obligations for the time period covered by the payment.
- Waive any late fees due on any rental arrears covered by the ERAP payment.
- Not increase the monthly rental amount above the monthly amount due at the time of application for ERAP assistance for months for which rental assistance is received and for one year from receipt of the ERAP payment.
- Not evict the household on behalf of whom the ERAP payment is made for reason of expired lease or holdover tenancy for one year from the receipt of the ERAP payment. An exception to this requirement shall be made if the dwelling unit contains four or fewer units and the property owner or owner’s immediate family members intend to immediately occupy the unit for use as a primary residence.
In response to reports the program has been slow to get the funding out to those who need it, Governor Kathy Hochul announced changes to accelerate the program and attract more applicants:
- An additional $1 million in marketing and outreach efforts to raise awareness about the rent relief program, the available funding, and the strong tenant eviction protections in place for those who apply.
- The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which administers the program, will analyze application data to target areas of the state with relatively low numbers of applications.
- A rapid review of the rent relief program's workflow, as well as the reassignment of 100 contracted staff to work solely with landlords to complete pending applications, which will accelerate payments.
"The pandemic thrust countless New Yorkers into financial turmoil and uncertainty, leaving many struggling to pay their rent," Governor Hochul said. "By expanding and better targeting our marketing and outreach efforts, we can raise awareness in the communities that need our help the most, encourage more people to apply, and protect them from being evicted. We are also reviewing and recalibrating the workflow and will dedicate more staff specifically to helping landlords through their application, so we can get outstanding applications fully approved and money out the door much more efficiently."
The state says ERAP will be vital to thousands of New Yorkers as the end of the state eviction moratorium approaches on Tuesday, August 31. If you apply you will automatically receive protections from eviction while your application is pending.
You can apply online here or contact someone over the phone Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 7;00 p.m. at 844-NY1RENT (844-691-7368). For the hearing impaired, TTY phone number: 1-833-843-8829.