NEW YORK – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Social Services, today announced that her committee will hold a hearing, with the Committees on Housing and Ways and Means, into the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The hearing, slated for August 10th at 10 am at 250 Broadway in Manhattan, will allow for a public airing of the myriad technical problems that are blocking applicants are struggling with and will also examine why New York is one of the very last states to distribute any funds from the $2.3 billion emergency fund.
It has been seven weeks since the ERAP program accepted its first application, yet not a single penny has been dispersed. New York must spend all the money by March 2022 or return it to the federal government. With proper administration, the program would spend all the money well before the 03/22 deadline and then request additional rental assistance funding.
“With more than $1 billion in unpaid rent owed statewide, we are in the throes of a crisis. Yet, New York is one of only four states that have inexplicably not distributed any of the $2+ billion in rental assistance. The Legislature worked closely with our counterparts on the federal level to secure this funding for rental assistance and with advocates to design a program that delivers aid to New Yorkers and small landlords who need it most.
Tenant and landlord applicants, along with community-based organizations, have all described the portal as unnecessarily complex, buggy and cumbersome, especially for those without ready access to the internet. Since it was first rolled out, many have complained that the ‘save and resume’ function is inoperable and that error messages cause tenants to restart the process meaning they lose their progress, yet the vendor has not addressed these concerns, among others. As a result, many have expressed grave concern about the fate of the program for those who are relying on the forthcoming relief.
I fought hard to ensure that ERAP was adequately funded, and that the program delivers assistance to those who need rent relief. And I will continue to fight to ensure that the implementation does not continue to be besieged by the same problem that made the rent relief program administered by State Homes and Community Renewal an abject failure.
With the looming expiration of the eviction moratorium on August 31, 2021, it is vital that we get this desperately needed relief out the door and that we do it now.
I am pleased that after my request, the New York State Assembly will be holding a hearing on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. We have a responsibility to avert the rental crisis and ensure that New Yorkers get access to desperately needed rental relief."