The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economic state of the nation, and low-income workers have been hit hardest by the pandemic-induced recession. If you have lost income because of the pandemic, you may be eligible for governmental help to keep you and your family under your rented roof.
About the COVID-19 Rent Relief Program
On July 16, applications for the New York State Rent Relief program opened, and the applications will remain open until July 30. Renters applying at any point within the two-week application window will receive equal consideration, as assistance from this program does not operate on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Accepted applicants will receive a one-time rent subsidy, sent directly to the renters’ landlords, from the state government. These rent payments are not loans, so people benefiting from the program will not need to repay the amount of assistance.
Applicants will be considered for rental assistance based on the direness of their social and economic needs. The program weighs your need for rental assistance by considering your income and loss of income, the cost of your rent, and your estimated risk of homelessness.
Who is Eligible For COVID-19 Rent Relief?
To receive assistance, you must have a primary residence in New York State.
Additionally, your economic situation before March 2020 and at the time of your application meets the following criteria to be eligible for rental assistance:
- Your household income, adjusted for family size, is and has been below 80% of the area’s median income.
- Your household is and has been paying more than 30% of its gross monthly income for rent.
In addition, eligible households must have suffered lost income due to the pandemic between April 1 and July 30. This includes taking wage cuts, losing your job, and working reduced hours for an hourly wage.
How to Apply for Assistance
Before you apply for this economic assistance program, you should consider your financial situation and determine if you’re eligible for the program.
When calculating your monthly income, including any governmental transfer payments you receive. This includes unemployment benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, but the stimulus check you received does not count as income.
You can apply for assistance online, after making a NY.gov account, or mail a paper application to the COVID Rent Relief Program.
To apply, you’ll have to provide information about your before March and current household income, as well as a description of your household. If you are deemed eligible, you’ll have to submit documents to verify your income and rent burden. Suitable documents include a copy of your lease, federal or state tax returns, and paystubs.
If you are accepted to receive compensation, your assistance payment will likely be sent to your landlord by the end of the summer. You and your landlord will be notified the payment will be sent simultaneously about the rent subsidy being sent. Your landlord is legally obligated to accept the aid as payment for your rent because of state legislation prohibiting income discrimination.
How Does the Rent Relief Program Help Renters?
The rental assistance payment will cover the difference between your March 2020 rent burden and your rent burden during the Covid-impacted months. Rent burden refers to the percent of your gross household income you spend on rent.
Renters can apply for assistance for each of the four months, April through July, covered by the program or only the month or months they suffered lost income.
Things to Keep in Mind
If you’re accepted to receive a rental subsidy, you’ll still need to pay the difference between your current tax payments and your increased tax burden because of your loss of wages. The rent aid program will cover the rest.
If you have already made full rental payments for months you are eligible for a rent subsidy, you can still receive the payment. Instead of covering parts of your past rent payments, the subsidy can be applied toward future payments.
For Longer-Term Financial Assistance
If you need additional assistance because you are unable to work because of a disability or sustaining an injury on the job, there are other programs you can leverage to get the compensation you need. Whether you’re entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits or Worker’s Compensation benefits for employees injured on the job, NY state is committed to helping workers stay on their feet when they need it most.
You may need to seek legal help to get the financial help you deserve. At O’Connor Law PLLC, we provide compassionate, expert legal assistance to help people receive the compensation they are entitled to by law. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.