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New York Tenants May Qualify for New Rent Relief Program

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Earlier this month, Governor Cuomo introduced an emergency rental assistance program to help qualified New Yorkers meet their rent obligations if they have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the new program, administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), eligible households may benefit from a one-time rental subsidy paid directly to their landlord or housing provider.  Qualified households are not required to repay this subsidy.

On implementing the program, Governor Cuomo stated, “It's critically important that people are able to stay safely in their homes as we progress through our data-driven, phased reopening, and the COVID Rent Relief Program reinforces that commitment with direct assistance to those in the greatest need.”

The subsidy available under the COVID Rent Relief Program 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. 

For example, if a household typically earns $2,000 per month and pays $700 in rent, their rent burden is 35%. If as a result of COVID-19, the household’s gross income decreased to $1,400 per month (i.e. due to reduced hours or reduced wages) and their rent remained at $700, the household’s rent burden increases to 50%. The Rent Relief Program provides a subsidy to cover the increase in rent burden, in this example 15% or $210 for each applicable month.

To qualify for the subsidy under the COVID Rent Relief Program, households must meet all of the eligibility requirements, including:

  • 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. Applicants can find the Area Median Income for their county, based on household size, on HCR's website here.
  • 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.

Tenants do not need to be delinquent in rent payments to qualify for this one-time subsidy, and it can be applied towards future rent.

Applications must be completed by tenants and will be accepted through the extended deadline of August 6, 2020. The online application form can be accessed here. Visit the HCR’s website for more information on full eligibility requirements, FAQs, and call center information.

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