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Landlords call on Hochul to allocate $2B to emergency rent assistance program

The Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) and its 4000 housing operators are calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature to allocate at least $2 billion in additional state funding to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)  program to cover the massive rent arrears crisis the state is facing in the upcoming budget.

Recent surveys suggest that at least 100,000 renters are in significant arrears and have not been provided any rent assistance. 

“The state is facing a serious housing problem. Eviction Moratoriums have delayed the inevitable and many renters cannot wait for federal rent relief to come. They need the state to act to prevent evictions now,” said Jay Martin, executive director of CHIP. “With future COVID variants likely its time for the state to create a true safety net for New Yorkers renters facing this and future storms.” 

New York State has requested $996 million in additional rent assistance from the U.S. Treasury to fund ERAP. This money comes with restrictions in how it can be distributed. Funding allocated by the state could have fewer restrictions, providing relief to renters who are not eligible for ERAP, but still have suffered financial hardship. Additionally, it is not enough to cover the more than $2 billion in rent arrears New Yorkers are currently carrying.  

JAY MARTIN

“The truth is that many struggling New Yorkers have not applied for ERAP. If the state does not step in and help these renters, then they will be saddled with massive amounts of debt and could be displaced from their homes,” said Martin. “Failure to help them also will hurt housing providers who have been asked to provide homes to non-paying tenants for more than 21 months with no compensation. While a few owners can absorb this financial loss, many small property owners cannot and are in imminent risk of losing their buildings through foreclosure or forced sale.”

An October 2021 survey of CHIP members found that 13.7 percent of renters are more than two months behind on rent and 4.54 percent of renters are more than $15,000 in arrears. CHIP estimates that overall rent arrears are still growing by between $200 and $250 million a month. 

“We must be smarter in how we protect renters from future COVID variants. Simply closing courts has backed up housing courts for years and forced renters and owners to accumulate billions in debt. Debt that must be paid back. If the government does not map out an exit strategy from this crisis that includes rent assistance for struggling New Yorkers and their housing providers the consequences are on them,” Martin said. 

According to CHIP, allowing the eviction moratorium to expire will provide an opportunity for the court system to identify tenants who need help, by providing them legal services, connecting them with support services and rent assistance programs.

Coupling this with additional state funding and fewer restrictions on how that funding is distributed, renters facing nonpayment proceedings will be able to get the help they need so they can stay in their homes, say the landlords. 

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