The New York State legislature this week unveiled a long awaited rent relief program for New Yorkers who have suffered from loss income as a result of Covid 19. The program, which most critics have described as "woefully inadequate", even for those who qualify, offers a one time subsidy paid directly to landlords. Frankly, a lot of people will be disappointed, as most were expecting a cancellation of rent.
The income restricted assistance is still only a small part of the rent relief that New Yorkers need to get back on their feet. Many whose incomes took a hit during the state mandated shutdown, are now grappling with the harsh reality of owing months in rent, and the state's voucher program wont cover all of the rent, but for those who qualify, it is still offers some small support.
To be eligible for the subsidy, which can be applied to rent from April to July, a tenant must have earned 80 percent of the area median income in their neighborhood prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. That means, if the median income in your neighborhood is $60,000.00, you must have earned $48,000.00.
In addition to that, applicants must also have already been paying more than thirty percent (30%) of their household income toward rent as of March, (in this case more than $1440.00) and then have suffered a loss of income during the state's stay at home order that increased their rent payments to an even greater share of their income.
If an applicant meets these qualifications, the state would then pay the difference between the 30% of a tenants income and the rent due. That means for someone making $48,000.00 as their household income, and their rent is $1500.00 per month, the state would pay only $60.00 per month for the four months that you lost income, which is the difference between the 30%, in this case $1440, and your actual rent which is $1500.00. Even then, the subsidy is capped at 125% of the fair market rent for each month of assistance requested.
Households that meet this convoluted and complicated criteria, and that have already managed to pay all or part of their rent between April and July, are eligible to receive assistance, and they could use the subsidy for future rent or apply it to their deposit.
Household must also have at least one U.S. citizen to apply, and individuals who are undocumented are not eligible. There are three core documents needed for the application: a government issued ID, a lease or contractual agreement that shows the rent amount, and proof of household income (pay stubs, letters from employer, or federal and or state tax returns).
To apply, go to www.hcr.ny.gov and the application period ends on July 30. You can also find the median income in your area by going to www.hcr.ny.gov/eligible-income-limits-80-ami-county. You can also call the Covid Rent Relief Program Call Center at 1-833-499-0318 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.