New York’s pandemic-spurred rental relief program could close to future applicants starting as early as next month, under an agreement reached Wednesday between the state and lawyers who sued to keep the program open.
The agreement lifts a temporary injunction that kept the Emergency Rental Assistance Program open through 2022 even though funding had dwindled, allowing renters to stave off eviction proceedings while awaiting decisions on their cases.
Ellen Davidson, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, which had sued to keep the roughly $2 billion program open, said the group agreed with the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance that there isn’t enough money left to help struggling New Yorkers who apply for rent relief after Jan. 15, 2023.
“We looked at their numbers and looked at how much federal money is remaining, and it became clear that the only way to fully fund everyone who has currently applied, and will apply in the next month, is for them to close the portal so that they can focus on the people who’ve already applied,” Davidson said in an interview.
That means New Yorkers who have fallen behind on rent since the pandemic began, lost income and are in low- to moderate-income households should submit their applications to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance before Jan. 15, 2023, Davidson said.
Under the program, known as ERAP, certain tenants can apply for funds to help pay rent arrears. The payments, which come from state and federal funds, go directly to landlords. Tenants can’t be evicted while their applications are pending.
Spokespeople for the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Around the nation, similar rent relief programs are also shuttering as they run out of funding.
As part of the agreement signed by state Supreme Court Justice Lynn Kotler, the state said it would reopen the application process to future tenants in the event new state or federal money became available.