State officials explain delays in rent relief payments
Sarah Taddeo reports in the Poughkeepsie Journal that New York officials have distributed just $156 million so far from the state's rent relief program out of $2.7 billion in state and federal funding. At a state Senate hearing Aug. 19 to examine New York's slow rollout of the rent-relief program, state officials promised that tens of thousands of New York tenants should receive notice next week that they’re approved for rent relief through the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. “Since (the program’s) enactment, we’ve heard persistent concerns from tenants and landlords and many advocates around the state that the program’s implementation has been far too slow, and that the money has not gone out at the speed that the urgency of the crisis requires,” said Sen. Brian Kavanagh, D-Manhattan, who chairs the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development. The program covers up to 12 months of unpaid rent and utilities since the beginning of the pandemic for those who meet certain income and hardship eligibility measures. State officials said they were overwhelmed at first. “There’s no question that the start of New York’s Rental Assistance Program was delayed, and there’s also no question that technical issues have occurred,” Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Michael Hein said. “But we’re successfully addressing these issues.” The state has reduced the application process’ document requirements and added 350 state employees to process the applications. Read more about this story in the Poughkeepsie Journal.