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COVID Rent Relief Program

COVID Rent Relief Program
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Overview & Eligibility

Important Update : The application period for the COVID Rent Relief Program ended on Thursday, August 6, 2020.

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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 Covid Rent Relief Program is not first come, first served. Applications will be accepted throughout the two-week application period. HCR will prioritize eligible households with “greatest economic and social need” accounting for income, rent burden, percent of income lost and risk of homelessness.

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.

 

Eligible households must meet the following criteria:

  • Before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, household income must have been below 80% of the area median income, adjusted for household size. You can find what the 80% AMI limit for your county and household size is here: www.hcr.ny.gov/eligible-income-limits-80-ami-county
  • Before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, the household must have been paying more than 30% of gross monthly income towards rent.  Gross income includes wages as well as any cash grants, child support, social security, unemployment benefits, etc.) 
  • Applicants have less monthly income in any month between April 2020 and July 2020 than they did prior to March 1, 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • See our FAQs below for more information.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID Rent Relief Program 2020 Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ's are available in multiple languages:

 

 

 

Question Answer

Is rental assistance provided on a first come, first served basis?

The Covid Rent Relief Program is not first come, first served. Applications will be accepted throughout the two-week application period. HCR will prioritize eligible households with “greatest economic and social need” accounting for income, rent burden, percent of income lost and risk of homelessness.

Do I need to register to apply?

Yes. Each applicant will need a NY.Gov account/username in order to use the online application portal. You will be prompted to created an account during the application process. If you need more information about NY.Gov accounts you can visit: https://my.ny.gov/NYgovId/faqs.xhtml

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What is the COVID Rent Relief Program?

The New York State Legislature established this program to help households experiencing an increase in their rent burden due to a loss of income during the COVID-19 crisis.

If I received unemployment benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, does that count towards my income for this program? 

Yes, under the statute, income includes unemployment benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PAC).

Who is eligible for the COVID Rent Relief Program?

To qualify for COVID Rent Relief assistance, applicants must meet all of the following eligibility rules:

1. Have a primary residence in New York State.

2. Before March 1, 2020 and when a resident applies, their household income must be below 80% of the area median income for their county and household size. Applicants can find their county’s area median income, based on household size: https://www.hcr.ny.gov/eligible-income-limits-80-ami-county

Example: In Clinton County, the area median family income is $76,800. If you are a family of four, and your household income is below $58,950, your household would meet this criteria.

3. Before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, your household must pay more than 30% of your gross monthly income for rent.

Example: Your monthly household income is $2,000. Thirty percent of your monthly household income would be $600, but you pay $700 a month in rent. Your household would meet this criteria.

4. Have less monthly income in any month between April 2020 and July 2020 than prior to March 1, 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.

Example: If you are paid hourly and has had your hours reduced since April 1, 2020, or has lost employment, you would meet these criteria.

Am I eligible to receive this rental assistance if I currently have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher or reside in public housing?

No. If a tenant is receiving a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher* for their housing costs or resides in public housing and their rent cannot be more than 30% of their income, the resident would not be eligible under the statute.

*For households that receive Section 8 vouchers: If their rent burden exceeds 30% of their income, and they have lost income in this period, the household should request an adjustment to their rental payment standard. Households can contact their voucher administrator to request an Interim Recertification.

If I’m eligible for the COVID Rent Relief Program, what assistance can I receive?

Eligible households can receive a one-time rent subsidy that covers the DIFFERENCE between their “rent burden” on March 1, 2020 and their “rent burden” for the months they are applying for assistance. Households may apply for one month or up to four months of assistance during this period. This one-time subsidy is paid directly to the resident’s landlord.

*Rent burden is the amount of monthly contractual rent that exceeds 30% of gross household income. 

Example: Prior to the COVID pandemic, your monthly household income was $2,000.  Your monthly rent is $700.  This means that on March 1, 2020, your rent burden was 35%.  Today, due to a reduction in hours, your monthly income has decreased to $1,400 and your rent remains the same.  You are now paying 50% of your monthly income toward rent.  You would be eligible for a subsidy that covers the 15% (50% - 35%) increase in your rent burden, or $210. This subsidy would get you back to your pre-March 1, 2020 rent burden of 35%.

Is there a maximum amount of assistance I can receive under this program?

There is a cap on the subsidy amount you can receive. For the purposes of calculating your assistance, your monthly contractual rent may not exceed 125% of the fair market rent per month for each month assistance is requested. Fair market rents are calculated by HUD, and can be located at the following link: https://www.hcr.ny.gov/rent-caps-125-fmr-crrp

Example: A resident living in a one-bedroom in Nassau County and pays $2,100 a month in rent.  The fair market rent for a one-bedroom in this county is $1,624. This household is still eligible for the subsidy, however, when their subsidy is calculated it will reflect a rent cap of $2,030, which is 125% of the fair market rent.

What is the application process for the COVID Rent Relief Program?

When a household applies, they will be asked questions to determine their eligibility.

Residents will also be asked to provide and submit certain information and documents for verification of their eligibility, including:

  • household size and composition; and
  • household income prior to March 1, 2020 and current household income.

If a household is determined to be eligible, they will be asked to submit documentation to certify their eligibility.

Once that information has been verified and processed, a one-time payment will be sent directly to the applicant’s landlord.

HCR anticipates sending payments to landlords within four weeks of the application deadline.

How do I establish my household’s eligibility for the COVID Rent Relief Program?  What documents do I need to provide?

Applicants must provide the following

  1. Copy of a lease, other proof of monthly rental amount; or the Tenant Rent Attestation (available on the portal) if a lease or other proof is unavailable;
  2. Proof of the household’s gross income prior to March 1, 2020 and at present. This includes, but is not limited to a paystub, employer letters, federal/state tax returns,  or the Income Attestation (available on the portal) if a paystub or other proof is unavailable.

Do I need to continue to pay my rent?

Yes. The rental subsidy covers the DIFFERENCE between your “rent burden” on March 1, 2020 and your “rent burden” for the months you are applying for assistance.

The rental subsidy will be paid directly to a household’s landlord. The remaining balance of the monthly rent is still payable to the landlord, as it regularly would be.

I have already paid my rent in full for one or more of the months in the coverage period.  Am I still able to receive assistance from the COVID Rent Relief Program?

Yes. If a household has paid all or some of their rent during the period of April 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020 and are eligible (see above criteria) they may still receive assistance.

If a household is selected to receive COVID Rent Relief, and they have already paid all or a portion of their rent, they may choose to have their landlord treat the relief as pre-payment of rent for one or more months beginning August 1, 2020. The household may also choose to have the landlord apply the payment to a security deposit if it was used it to pay rent.

Residents will be asked to specify how they want this assistance to be applied at the time they submit their application.

If I don’t have a lease but am a month-to-month tenant am I still eligible to receive assistance?

Yes. Applicants do not need to have a valid lease to receive assistance, as long as they qualify under the eligibility criteria.

Households that do not have a lease will be required to either provide some other proof of a rental obligation, or complete the Tenant Rent Attestation, (available on the portal) if they do not have other documentation.

What income is included when determining my household income?

All income must be included when determining your household income.  Eligibility for this program is based on gross income*, rather than take-home pay. 

Under the statute, income includes salaries, wages, tips, recurring gifts, unemployment benefits and other government benefits for all members of a household. This also includes Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PAC).

Households do not have to include employment income for minor children under 18 years old, or for children who are 18 or older and full-time students. Households also do not have to include foster care payments or supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits (SNAP).

* If you are using your 2018 federal or state income tax return as proof of income, eligibility is based on adjusted gross income.

Will the stimulus check be counted as income?

No, it does not count as income.

Will the rent relief be counted as income on the landlord's income tax? Yes, it will.

What time frame does the COVID Rent Relief Program cover?

Under the program, you must have less income in any month between April 2020 and July 2020 than you did prior to March 1, 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  You are only able to receive the subsidy for the months of April, May, June and July.

What if my income in the months of April, May, June and July was different?  

If you are otherwise eligible for the program, you should still apply for assistance.  Where you are asked to supply your current income, you should provide information on the month in which your income was lowest.  However, unemployment insurance or other subsidies or entitlements that are received to cover loss of income for a particular month should be counted for that month regardless of the month in which it is received. If you have not yet received UI benefits or another subsidy or entitlement, you are not required to report them.

How do I determine whether my household income is below 80% of the area median income?

HUD’s Area Median Income varies by household size and by county. You can find your county’s area median income, based on your household size: https://www.hcr.ny.gov/eligible-income-limits-80-ami-county

What if I receive public benefits or public assistance? Will I need to report any funds received from this program as income?

No. Any funds paid on behalf of a household will not be counted towards their annual household income for purposes of public benefits or other public assistance.

 

Do I need to claim eligible immigration status to apply for this program?

Under federal rules, a household is eligible to receive assistance if one or more individuals (including a minor child) in the household can receive benefits under Title IV of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA).  For example, a family with a citizen child is eligible for benefits. The applicant must be 18+ years old to apply. A parent does not have to apply on behalf of the citizen child to be eligible for benefits. 

To determine whether or not a household member meets the PRWORA-eligible immigration statuses, please consult the PWORA Immigration Status Eligibility 

My household is a mixed-immigration status household.  I do not claim eligible immigration status, but my child does.  Can we still apply?

Yes.  Under the program, only one individual in the household needs to contend eligible immigration status, and that individual can be a minor child.  In the application section that asks about eligible immigration status, you should use the child’s social security number. 

I am an immigrant.  If I receive COVID Rent Relief assistance, will this assistance subject me to a public charge determination?

It is unlikely that this assistance would be considered for public charge purposes. However, immigration and public charge analysis is very complicated.  You should consult with the Office for New Americans or an immigration attorney for assistance. 

Does my landlord have to accept the benefit?

Yes.  In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation that prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on what funds they use to pay their rent. In most instances, this means that landlords and other housing providers are legally required to accept COVID Rent Relief Program.

New York State takes Source of Income discrimination very seriously. If a landlord refuses to accept this payment, residents can file a SOI discrimination complaint with the State Division of Human Rights at www.dhr.ny.gov/complaint

I have been selected to receive assistance. How will I know whether my landlord has received the benefit on my behalf?

Once an applicant has been selected to receive assistance, they will be notified simultaneously along with their landlord that the subsidy is being dispersed. 

This notification will include the amount of assistance, the timeline for receipt, and the method you have chosen to have additional funds credited to you, if you have already paid some or all of your rent.

I was notified that the COVID Rent Relief assistance was paid to my landlord. My landlord now claims that they never received assistance and is seeking to have me evicted.  What should I do?

It is important that applicants retain the notification that was sent advising that payment has been made to their landlord. This notice is a household’s evidence of payment. You may also contact the Call Center at (833) 499-0318 with issues regarding payment, including confirmation of issuance of payment.

 

What types of rental properties are eligible for assistance?

The following types of rental properties are available for rent relief assistance through the program:

  • Apartment rental;
  • Rent for a single-family home;
  • Manufactured home rental; and
  • Manufactured home lot rental.

Manufactured home park residents should only include rental obligations (lot rent and/or home rent) on their application.

Can I apply for the COVID Rent Relief Program if I live with roommates?

Yes, residents may apply for rental assistance if they live with one or more roommates, but they can only apply for assistance for the portion of the home and rent payment for which they are personally responsible on a monthly basis.

If a resident and their roommate both meet the eligibility criteria and are both applying for assistance, they must apply together as a household.

If only one roommate meets the eligibility criteria, that roommate should apply alone and pro-rate the rent amount.  This roommate will be required to complete a Tenant Rent Attestation, certifying their share of the rent.

Will I be notified if I am deemed ineligible for COVID Rent Relief assistance?

Yes.  You will receive a notification if you are deemed ineligible for assistance.

Do I have to tell my landlord that I applied for the COVID Rent Relief Program?

To prevent misunderstandings, tenants are strongly encouraged to communicate their inability to pay any or all their rent to their landlord as soon as they can and to notify their landlord that they have submitted an application. Both the tenant and their landlord will receive a notice when the funds have been disbursed.

Can a landlord apply the COVID Rent Relief Program on behalf of their tenant(s)?

No. An eligible tenant must apply on their household’s behalf.

What is the deadline to apply for the COVID Rent Relief Program?  When will I hear back?

The deadline to apply for assistance is August 6, 2020.  HCR anticipates sending payments within four weeks of the application deadline.

Can I sign up to receive updates on the availability of the COVID Rent Relief Program?

Yes, to receive the most up to date information please click on the following link: COVID Rent Relief Program Updates

Who can I call for help with my application? For assistance with problems with your application, please call the Call Center at (833) 499-0318.
Call Center support is available from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Monday through Saturday.
What file types can we upload?

The application system accepts the following file types -.doc, .docx, .jpeg, .jpg, .png, .gif, .tiff, .tif, .pdf

The maximum file size is 100MB

 

 

Related Documents

Contact Us

HCR has created a dedicated call center to provide residents with help.

Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Call the COVID Rent Relief Program Call Center at 1-833-499-0318 or email at [email protected]

 

If you are unsafe at home, contact the NYS Domestic & Sexual Violence hotline at 800.942.6906