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Small Property Owners Call For $2B More In ERAP Funding

January 5, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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A coalition of small property owners is calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature to commit $2 billion in additional funding to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Recent surveys suggest that the total rent arrears for tenants unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 emergency is more than $2 billion.

New York State has requested $996 million in additional funding from the U.S. Treasury. There is little reason to believe that the state will receive the full funding request, or even half that much. Even if the state did receive additional federal funding, it would not cover the current rent arrear need.

The NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) has approved the applications of 163,382 renters, totaling $2.04 billion. An additional 126,000 renters applied for relief and a majority of those would likely receive funding if there was more money allocated to the program. We estimate that pending applicants who would be approved are holding arrears close to $1 billion.

Additionally, an estimated 175,000 renters who may be eligible for ERAP were not aware of the program’s existence. This data was gathered directly from renters in more than 200 apartment buildings in New York City by canvassers, as well as surveys of housing providers of more than 50,000 units of mostly affordable housing in New York City. We estimate this group of renters is holding at least $1 billion in arrears.

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“The data clearly shows that the size of the problem is at least $2 billion. If the government does not fund the program fully, renters are going to suffer. They will be straddled with massive debt and will be insecure in their housing. Despite its initial difficulties, the ERAP program is necessary for providing relief to renters and their housing providers. The state government should first focus on funding it, so those in the most distress get the help they need. Anything less just delays future housing problems for providers and renters,” said Jay Martin, Executive Director of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP).

“The last thing small property owners want to do is go to court to handle a non-payment dispute with a renter who has been struggling through the pandemic. Providing more funding to ERAP will make sure that doesn’t have to happen. It gives us the rent we need so we can pay our property taxes, do maintenance on our buildings, and improve the quality of our tenants’ apartments. And it helps renters stay in their homes,” said Ann Korchak, President of the Small Property Owners of New York (SPONY).

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