NY to launch ‘streamlined’ rental relief application process amid criticism

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York State will launch what it says is a new, streamlined application for its rent relief program, effective Tuesday.

Governor Cuomo’s office made the announcement Monday.

The state says the process will relax documentation standards for both tenants and landlords and implements a "streamlined" process for submission of debt documentation for multi-tenant landlords.

The state launched an online application portal on June 1 and said it would take four to six weeks to process applications. Tuesday marks eight weeks. Reported delays led to criticism from New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who said the state could lose its money if it doesn’t use it by September.

Schumer claims until last week New York was the only state that has not sent out any rent relief money to tenants and landlords .$2.7 billion in federal relief was sent to the state, but only $130,000 dollars in payouts have been made so far.

New York’s pause on evictions is in effect until Aug.31. With the launch of the new process, the state says its Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will be "current" with its payment for all pending, verified applications by that date.

The OTDA will be managing applications and will add additional staff.

Cuomo said Monday the state would be starting with the "poorest" tenants first.

The state says if you live in the City of Rochester or Monroe County, you are ineligible for the state’s program and must apply with a local program for emergency rental assistance.

The state says $168 million of the fund money goes directly to the county and the city, among the other ineligible areas.

The state’s program is expected to serve between 170,000 and 200,000 households.

Sen. Pam Helming (R-Geneva) released the following statement:

“I hope this announcement from the Governor’s office will finally expedite the distribution of rental assistance funds. As the Governor said, landlords and tenants need this funding now. They also needed it yesterday. And last year, when New York received its first $100 million from the federal government and distributed only $41 million.

"I am also pleased to see that Senator Kavanagh, chair and my colleague on the Senate Housing Committee, recently acknowledged in an interview with the New York Times that one reason for the program’s slow start was because Senate Democrats insisted on including it in the budget. I agree, and that is why I and my Republican colleagues advocated so strongly to separate it from the budget process.

"I again urge the Senate Majority to deliver Senate bill S.6481 to the Governor, which I co-sponsored, so we can earmark the $100 million in state funds in the ERAP program to mom-and-pop property owners whose tenants vacated their units while owing rent.

"We must also continue to prepare for the efficient reopening of local housing courts as the state’s eviction moratorium ends on August 31. After leading two roundtables on this issue, I am now compiling recommendations from participating experts to New York’s Office of Court Administration.

"As always, I stand ready to work with my colleagues on the Senate Housing Committee to ensure New York State does a much better job to support landlords and tenants.”