The State of New York announced on November 12, 2021, that it was no longer accepting applications for rent relief through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). At that time the $2.5 billion program had received over 280,000 applications and provided financial assistance to around 80,000 tenants and landlords. However, the program quickly ran through the federal funding provided.
On Monday, December 13, 2021, the Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit on behalf of tenants and other housing groups, seeking to force the state to re-open the ERAP application process. Their argument is that the state violated the law by closing the ERAP application process before seeking out and exhausting all potential funds. State officials have not commented on the litigation but did note that N.Y. state is attempting to fund other tenant relief programs. N.Y. State Senator Brian Kavanagh has advocated for the state to step up and continue to fund ERAP, even if the Federal government does not send any additional funds. Governor Kathy Hochul has requested an additional $1 billion from Washington, but Congress has not yet decided whether to grant the request.
With Omicron cases on the rise, it is likely that tenant protections, including the eviction moratorium, will stay in place for the foreseeable future. It is unclear whether N.Y. state will take up funding ERAP if Federal funds do not come through, but state legislators are certainly pushing for the state to account for ERAP and other tenant protections in the state budget. The Federal Treasury Department has already informed the state that it will likely be unable to provide the entire $1 billion requested. However, with Governor Hochul's request, it looks like there will be some form of an ERAP round two.
If ERAP does re-open applications, thousands of tenants are expected to apply, and funds will go quickly!
By: Hannah Goodwin
Moss & Tapia Law
You can read more about the lawsuit here: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/14/nyregion/new-york-covid-rent-relief-lawsuit.html
You can find more information about the closure of ERAP here: https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2021/11/15/emergency-rental-assistance-program-no-longer-accepting-new-applicants