Cayuga County tenants and landlords impacted by COVID-19 may apply for a new rental assistance program, and the county has created an online platform to help people navigate the procedure.
New York lawmakers this week extended the state's COVID-19 eviction moratorium through the end of August, and tenants who can attest to financial hardship due to the pandemic are protected from evictions for another four months.
Additionally, the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program allows tenants and landlords to apply for rental and utilities arrears payments, and the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance is making $2.4 billion available to help eligible households who are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the pandemic. Mobile home rent and utility payments are also eligible for assistance.
According to a news release from the Cayuga County Department of Social Services, the state is expected to open an online portal sometime later in May that enables tenants and landlords to apply for rental arrears payment assistance. If eligible, these payments will be made to participating landlords directly.
Funds for this program will limited and made available regionally, and once the application process opens up, funds will awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until the regional allocation is exhausted.
Cayuga County is encouraging tenants and landlords to learn more about this opportunity, and a newly created resource page — cayugacounty.us/renthelp — will be updated as more details become available.
The Department of Social Services and community agencies are preparing to assist clients with eligibility questions, securing documentation, and completing the online application. Landlords with qualifying tenants are encouraged to discuss this program with them and help them apply when the time comes.
In the meantime, renters and landlords can sign up on the county website to receive automatic alerts about updates for this program by scrolling down to the Alert Center, selecting Coronavirus COVID-19 Updates, and selecting how you would like to receive the alert (text or email).
The Department of Social Services is encouraging people to review the frequently asked questions from the U.S. Department of Treasury regarding eligibility and other requirements. When New York-specific guidance becomes available, it will be posted on the county website.
Now is the time for renters should start compiling documentation, such as copies of your lease agreement, proof of income, and the rent and utilities you owe.
Qualifications under the program include:
• An individual in your household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant cost, or experienced other financial hardship due to COVID19.
• An individual in your household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
• Your household has a household income at or below 80% of the area median income. Maximal annual incomes for Cayuga County start at $39,850 for a one-person household.
If you qualify, your landlord may receive rent arrears payments of up to 12 months and prospective rent payments of up to 3 months, and funds may also be used to pay a former landlord. A landlord or a public utility company may receive utility arrears payments of up to 12 months, and renters may be eligible for certain relocation or displacement expenses.