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Rental Relief Program Available For Limited Time

Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Sen. George Borrello, R-Silver Creek, announced the availability of rental assistance for low income tenants that pay more than 30% of their income for rent and lost income during COVID. The rental assistance would be paid directly to their landlord and would not need to be repaid.

Applications for rental assistance must be completed and submitted no later than July 29 to New York State Homes and Community Renewal Agency, online or at the address stated below.

The program is funded through a federal grant, and was authorized by special legislation supported by Borrello and Goodell. Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, also voted for the legislation.

The New York State Homes and Community Renewal Agency (HCR) stated, “The COVID Rent Relief Program will provide eligible households with a one-time rental subsidy that will be sent directly to the household’s landlord. Applicants will not need to repay this assistance.

The rental assistance payment will cover the difference between the household’s rent burden on March 1, 2020 and the increase in rent burden for the months the households is applying for assistance. Households can apply for up to four months in rental assistance.”

To be eligible for the program, a tenant in Chautauqua County must be below the following annual gross income levels: $30,120 for a 1 person household, $34,400 for a two person household, $38,720 for a three person household,$43,000 for a four person household, and $46,400 for a five person household. Gross income includes wages, cash grants, child support, social security, and unemployment benefits.

A tenant must have been paying more than 30% of their gross income for rent before March 1 and at the time of application.

If the tenant’s income drops due to COVID (such as a loss of employment or a reduction in hours worked), then the COVID Rent Relief Program will pay a portion of the rent so that the percentage of income needed for rent remains the same as it existed prior to COVID.

For example, if a tenant before COVID was earning $2,000 a month and paying $600 a month for rent, the tenant would be paying 30% of their income toward rent. If their income dropped to $1,500 a month, their rent would be equal to 40% of their income ($600/$1,500 = 40%). The COVID Rent Relief Program would pay the landlord $150/month for up to four months so that the remaining rent ($450/month) would be the same percentage (30%) that existed prior to COVID ($450/$1,500 = 30%).

The rental assistance is available even if the tenant has already paid the rent. The additional funds will help reduce future rental payments. The receipt of these funds by the landlord does not relieve the tenant from paying any remaining unpaid balance or stop a possible eviction for any remaining unpaid rent.

Goodell stated he was “very pleased to support the legislation for this program because it helps both low income tenants and their landlords, without creating a government funded windfall for either. It is a responsible and thoughtful approach for helping low income tenants that are hurt by COVID 19.”

Borrello stated this program is a much better approach than other legislative initiatives that helped tenants at the expense of landlords. “When tenants do not pay landlords, many landlords will not have the funds needed to pay their mortgages, pay their property taxes, or maintain their properties. A program that helps both landlords and tenants is a much better approach.”

Both Borrello and Goodell were quick to thank Congressman Tom Reed, co-chair of the bipartisan problem solvers caucus, for his support in obtaining the federal funding through the CARES Act.

For more information, landlords and tenants can call the Homes and Community Renewal Agency COVID Rent Relief Program hotline at 1 (833) 499-0318. The application can be obtained at the HCR webpage, https://hcr.ny.gov/RRP. Applications can be completed and filed on-line or mailed to COVID Rent Relief Program, 500 Bi-County Blvd., Suite #300, Farmingdale, New York 11735.

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