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COVID Rent Relief Program

COVID Rent Relief Program
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Additional Information Request & Appeals Information

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.

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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 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.

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.

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.

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 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 with additional questions? Please call the Call Center at (833) 499-0318.
Call Center support is available from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday.
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

I’m a landlord and received a payment check. How can I confirm which tenants the payment is associated with?

Your check lists the first five tenants covered by the payments. For additional tenants, review the second sheet of paper in your mailing that identifies additional tenants and their associated payments. If you believe your tenant number exceeds five and cannot find the second sheet, please call the Call Center at 1-833-499-0318 or email [email protected] and request a call back from the Case Management team.

Denial FAQ's

If an applicant is denied - Frequently Asked Questions
Question Answer
I successfully completed the eligibility questionnaire, how can I be denied now? The initial eligibility questionnaire was a not a determination of eligibility. Those questions were intended to narrow the pool of applicants to only those who were most likely to be eligible for assistance based on the information supplied by the applicant. HCR then reviewed all applications to confirm eligibility.
I was denied assistance because I received unemployment.  How can that be when I lost my job and my income?

The law establishing the COVID Rent Relief program includes unemployment benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PAC) as income.  Even though you and your family may have less income now than you did before the COVID 19 pandemic most people receiving enhanced unemployment benefits still had income that was above 80% of the area median income when adjusted by household size and county, the cut off for the program.

 

You can check your county’s area median income based on household size at: https://www.hcr.ny.gov/eligible-income-limits-80-ami-county

I was denied assistance because my income prior to COVID 19 was too high?  How can that be when I lost my job and my income? To be eligible for the program an applicant’s income had to below 80% of area median both before March 1, 2020 and at time of time of application.  So, although you may have suffered a loss of income due to the COVID 19 pandemic if you and your family’s adjusted income was more than 80%  area median both March 1, 2020 you would not be eligible for assistance. 
My income was below 80% of area median income both before March 1, 2020 and it was below 80% of area median income at the time of application. I received a letter saying I was not eligible because I am a tenant in a public housing development.  How is that possible?

The law helps NYS residents whose rent burden (the percentage of their income they pay monthly in rent) has increased due to the COVID 19 pandemic.  As a resident of public housing you should not be paying more than 30% of your income in rent.  You should contact your public housing authority and recertify your income in order to have your monthly rent payment adjusted to take into consideration the loss of income.

My income was below 80% of area median income both before March 1, 2020 and it was below 80% of area median income at the time of application. I received a letter saying I was not eligible because I am a Section 8 voucher holder.  How is that possible?

The law helps NYS residents whose rent burden (the percentage of their income they pay monthly in rent) has increased due to the COVID 19 pandemic.  As a Section 8 voucher holder you should not be paying more than 30% of your income in rent.  You should contact your Section 8 voucher authorizer and recertify your income in order to have your monthly rent payment adjusted to take into consideration the loss of income

My income was below 80% of area median income both before March 1, 2020 and it was below 80% of area median income at the time of application. I received a letter saying I was not eligible because I am not a renter. What does that mean?

Only renters whose primary residence is in New York State are eligible for the COVID Rent Relief program.  Tenants in the following types of rental properties are available for rent relief assistance:

  • 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.

Co-op and condominium owners who have proprietary leases are not considered renters.

What if I disagree with HCR’s determination of eligibility or the amount of the award? HCR has an appeal process in place if you believe that HCR either made an error in determining eligibility or that HCR made an error in calculating the award.  You will have seven (7) business days from the date on your denial to file an appeal and the appeal request can be downloaded from the HCR COVID RRP website: https://hcr.ny.gov/rrp-appeal-form.
When and how will applicants be notified of their eligibility? HCR is diligently working to review the applications received for this program. Applicants can expect to get a notification regarding their application in the next several weeks.  Applicants will be notified via email or letter, depending on what contact information they submitted with their application.
What is the deadline for filing an appeal? You will have seven (7) business days following notification of your award or denial to file an appeal.  If you choose to file an appeal using the paper appeal request form, the form must be postmarked by the seventh business day following your notification in order to be eligible.

Someone in my household has a disability and we need more time to complete the appeal.  Can we get a reasonable accommodation?

Yes.  Households with one or more individuals with a disability are eligible for an extension of time as a reasonable accommodation. These households will be granted an extension of seven (7) business days in addition to the initial appeal period of seven (7) business days to appeal.  If a household requires a reasonable accommodation, they must indicate in Section 1 of the appeal form that they require a reasonable accommodation.

Do I need to submit additional documentation when filing an appeal? If you believe an error was made in the determination of your application, you should submit any documentation that supports this.    
When will I be notified of the outcome of my appeal?

You will likely receive a determination on your appeal request in approximately 30 calendar days.  Timing may vary depending on a variety of factors including the number of appeals received.  If you have any questions, please contact: (833) 499-0318.

 

I received the determination of my appeal but I disagree with it.  Can I file another appeal? No.  Once you have submitted an appeal, you may not submit another appeal.  If you have any questions on how the appeal determination was made, please contact (833) 499-0318.

Related Documents

Contact Us

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

Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4:30 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:

Call 800.942.6906

Text 844.997.2121

Visit https://opdv.ny.gov/