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Op-Ed: Albany Must Fix Rent Relief Program to Serve More NY Families in Need

Judith Goldiner and Ellen Davidson, attorneys with the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society, penned a joint op-ed in City Limits calling on Governor Cuomo and the Legislature to act immediately to avoid the impending forfeiture of statewide rent relief program funds earmarked for New York tenants who are suffering COVID-19-related financial hardships.

The state has until December 30, 2020 — just 30 days from today — to distribute the remaining $60 million to New Yorkers. Only $40 million out of $100 million in rent relief funds has been distributed so far, and only 15,020 out of 94,000 people who sought relief have been approved for the program. A recent analysis by Legal Aid found that other states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, and Washington State, amended their respective rent relief programs earlier this year to maximize the number of needy families eligible for relief. Albany so far has failed to do this.

“The state’s division of Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), which is responsible for the distribution of the COVID Rent Relief Program, states on its website that it ‘will prioritize eligible households with ‘greatest economic and social need’ accounting for income, rent burden, percent of income lost and risk of homelessness.’ We need our state leadership to ensure that HCR can deliver on that promise and that those who truly have the greatest economic and social need qualify to actually receive funds,” they write in part.

Read the full op-ed here.