Since its launch at the beginning of this month, New York’s $2.4 billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) has already received over 90,000 applications.
As noted in our earlier blog piece, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) opened its online application portal to COVID-affected tenants. To qualify, renters had to be making less than 80% of the area’s median income and were required to demonstrate pandemic-related financial hardship and housing instability. Eligible tenants could get coverage for up to one year of unpaid rent and utility payments together with three months of future rent.
According to the state, the ERAP could benefit between 170,000 to 200,000 households, but a National Council of State Housing Agencies analysis puts the number of New York households at risk of eviction closer to 800,000 to 1.23 million.
It appears that the program will fall short of providing rental assistance to all, or even most, struggling tenants. And, if these early applications are any indication, the state’s anticipated threshold of 200,000 households will be reached in no time. “If the volume continues this way, we may not be able to get to everybody,” remarked Lakisha Morris of Catholic Charities, one of the nonprofits helping guide tenants through the program.
OTDA spokesperson Anthony Farmer noted that the state intends to work with partners and households to “ensure this critical assistance is distributed to eligible applicants in a timely manner.” What is “timely,” though, is anybody’s guess. OTDA expects that it will take them between four to six weeks to process completed applications, with funds issuing thereafter.