© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

After much criticism, new state rent relief application process starts today


Responding to complaints by New York’s senior senator and others about the state’s slowest-in-the-nation rate of distributing federal rent relief dollars, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a new streamlined application process for tenants begins Tuesday.

Chuck Schumer, who is the U.S. Senate majority leader, said over the weekend that the state was in danger of losing $2.4 billion in federal aid due to delays by the Cuomo administration in getting out the rent relief.

“We are calling on the state of New York to get the money out to the tenants now,” Schumer said.

Schumer said New York is last among the 50 states in distributing the money and he wrote a letter to Cuomo asking for changes. He said if the money does not get distributed to tenants by the end of September, New York might have to forfeit the funds.

Applicants have complained that the site is plagued by technical glitches.

Cuomo said a new streamlined application processwill be put in place Tuesday to “help eliminate potential barriers for eligible New Yorkers to receive funding.”

The governor said if the application process has been slow, it’s because his administration wants to make sure that it catches potential cases of fraud.

“You want to make sure you give the money to the people who need it most,” Cuomo said, “and there’s no fraud and no scam.”

The governor did not address criticism of the current system, but he said the 4,828 cases that are under review will be completed by Aug. 3.

The timing is crucial because a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic ends on Aug. 31 and tens of thousands of New Yorkers owe several months’ worth of back rent.

In a statement, a spokesman for the state agency responsible for distributing the money said $700,000 in federal rent relief was given out on Monday.

“Nearly $700,000 in rent relief payments were made today to New Yorkers after opening the program to applications within weeks of enactment in April, and payments are now expected to be provided daily,” said Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance spokesman Anthony Farmer.

Farmer said the program that was agreed to with the Legislature set an initial 30-day period that prioritized the neediest applicants. He said any tenant who has submitted a complete application, even if they have not yet received the money, are protected from eviction.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.