ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul said she is asking the Biden administration for more federal aid to New York’s since-parched rent relief program before the state’s moratorium on evictions is expected to expire next weekend.
The eviction ban that has been in effect since March 2020 is expected to expire on Saturday, January 15.
“We want to let people know that this is coming to an end. I am in discussions with the Legislature about what to do about this matter,” Hochul said during a news conference in Manhattan.
The moratorium was initially signed as an executive order by the ex-government. Andrew Cuomo to help tenants and landlords facing COVID-related financial difficulties.
It has been extended several times, most recently by Hochul in September after a separate but similar federal moratorium expired in July.
Hochul said she will send a letter along with other governors, including California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, asking for additional help to clear a roughly $1 billion backlog being called for by New York renters and landlords will.
“The federal government said it would set aside money — leftover money — from other states that didn’t use it,” Hochul said.
“We have asked the Treasury Department for over $978,000 million of this money to come to New York to fill our backlog,” she added, referring to a request New York made earlier this fall for the additional billion US dollars in federal funding for the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
The Empire State only received $27 million — a fraction of the request.
“That won’t get us over the finish line,” Hochul said. “Today I’m going to publish a letter … to ask the federal government to refill the coffers because what I don’t want to do is create false expectations.”
Hochul said she is considering other options with lawmakers and also advocated reopening ERAP – which closed earlier this fall – as ordered by a state judge last Thursday.
The scheme, which reopened at 10pm on Tuesday, offers temporary eviction protection for anyone applying – but it has reopened with no additional funding.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) echoed Hochul’s request.
“Senator Schumer has spearheaded this issue since the summer when he called for immediate action that has helped countless renters,” Schumer spokesman Angelo Roefaro told The Post.
“Now there are other states with untapped funds, and we’re working with the entire congressional delegation to make sure as many of those dollars come to New York as possible. We have also asked the Treasury to make these payments as soon as possible.”
New York was originally awarded $2.4 million for the ERAP program – but the Cuomo administration delayed opening it, causing delays in disbursing the money.
The state’s Temporary Disability Assistance Office has paid or is obligated to pay just over $2 billion to eligible applicants, according to data Monday.
Although the agency has received 291,089 applications, only 104,152 payments have been issued so far.
A further 57,000 tenant applications submitted since June are pending approval.
Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association — a group representing 25,000 homeowners and managers across the five counties — slammed the state.
“I would not encourage anyone to submit their application to a portal where funds might not be allocated at the end of the day,” he told the Post.
The RSA previously filed a motion — which is currently pending — in the state’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the moratorium after Hochul signed the extension.
“There are owners who have made applications that have not received any money.”
This post first appeared on Nypost.com