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Behind on Your Rent? The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) Can Help

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Photo: Catholic Charities New York

Catholic Charities New York is assisting clients by providing direct and indirect help with applications. They are also conducting outreach and education to tenants and landlords across Manhattan.

By Jim Sliney Jr

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, tenants have had protected by State and Federal moratoriums on eviction. The protection originally came from the Centers of Disease Control and has since been extended numerous times, most recently to June 30, 2021. Meanwhile, in New York State, the moratorium for renters has been extended through August 31, 2021. Until now, legislators have been kicking the rent-crisis-can down the road. But now it looks like the road is coming to an end - and there’s good news.

Moratorium = a legal authorization to debtors to postpone payment

EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ERAP)

ERAP is a New York State program that provides assistance for up to 12 months of rent arrears. It also provides up to 3 months of additional assistance for upcoming rent payments. The ERAP is available to New Yorkers regardless of immigration status. New York State has poured $2.4 billion into the fund.

Anyone can apply, though there are qualifications. A priority is being given to households that are at or below 50% of the median area income, but anyone in rent crisis can apply. The financial assistance will provide up to one year’s worth of unpaid rent. The program also covers utilities (gas, electric, etc.). Because the program is capped at $2.4 billion, it may not be enough to help everyone, so those in need should apply soon.

THE SCOPE OF NEED

Half a million New Yorkers lost their jobs during the pandemic. In February, ABC7NY reported that the amount of rent that has gone unpaid has exceeded one billion dollars. They also reported that though the moratorium protects from eviction, landlords are still filing evictions to the courts, that the number of eviction suits filed impact NYC’s poorest neighborhoods, and are twice as high among Blacks and Latinos compared to Whites.

Almost 49,000 eviction cases have been filed in New York City housing court. How the courts will handle the overwhelming number of cases come September 1st is unknown.

Landlords have also had it rough. Generally speaking, smaller landlords who have tenants who could not pay rent have, in turn, been unable to pay their mortgages. Similarly, commercial tenants with fewer than 50 employees (the majority of independent businesses like restaurants, grocery stores, salons, etc.) have had challenges too.

Tenants, landlords and small business renters will all be helped by the new program.

HOW IS CATHOLIC CHARITIES HELPING?
Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS) is assisting clients by providing direct and indirect help with applications. They are also conducting outreach and education to tenants and landlords across Manhattan. CCCS has also partnered with 4 other New York City Community Based Organizations to reach as many tenants and landlords as possible to share more about the program and provide application assistance. 

“ERAP is just another way that CCNY continues to meet the needs of New Yorkers”, explained Lakisha Morris, the Director of Operations for Community Outreach Services at CCCS. “Keeping individuals and families in a safe and stable environment is one of our many goals as we help improve the lives of those we serve. When hard times arise, we continue to find ways to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. Being one of the providers of ERAP assistance is one of many ways we can meet those needs.”

THIS IS WHERE TO GO TO APPLY
https://otda.ny.gov/programs/Emergency-Rental-Assistance/

Or you can call the Catholic Charities Helpline at 888-744-7900 and Helpline staff will assist you.

 

 

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