So far, roughly $203 million in direct payments have been made to 15,000 landlords, according to state officials, who argue they have made progress in recent weeks. Another $600 million has been obligated, but not distributed. More than 46,000 tenants have had their applications provisionally approved, but discrepancies in information between the tenant and landlord applications have led to a holdup, officials said.
“As intended, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program is providing critical assistance to struggling New Yorkers, while also ensuring that all those who apply are protected from eviction while their application is pending,” said Anthony Farmer, the spokesman for the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which is administering the program.
Last week, Ms. Hochul announced that the state would invest an additional $1 million in marketing and outreach efforts to raise awareness about the rent relief program and get more people to apply. She also ordered “a rapid review” of the program’s workflow and reassigned 100 contracted staff to work solely on pending applications and accelerate payments.
Mr. Martin said that his group’s focus has been on educating small property owners about the program so they can, in turn, educate their tenants, saying that “tenants are completely confused as to how the program protects them or doesn’t.” He said, for example, that some of his members’ tenants are under the false impression that their rent has been forgiven as a result of the moratorium.
And some housing lawyers said that while some landlords may be refusing to accept the relief money, many haven’t been able to figure out how to navigate the convoluted process to obtain it.
Judith Goldiner, who leads the civil law reform unit at the Legal Aid Society, said that extending the moratorium until January was a crucial layer of protection to keep tenants in their homes while state officials scramble to get the money out the door.
“It is so necessary in order to solve the gap between people who need help but don’t know that the ERAP money is there and so that we can prevent evictions while we get the money out,” she said. “It’s very critical from a public health perspective and the homeless crisis that we would otherwise be facing.”