With the eviction ban set to expire this weekend, New York City tenants facing the possible loss of their homes due to unpaid rent are being urged to seek out help now.
On Jan. 11, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul confirmed that the state’s eviction moratorium will expire this weekend, meaning hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers face homelessness and evictions Jan. 15.
While initially extended in September until the new year, tenants and activists alike argued that lifting the moratorium while still in the throes of a global pandemic would end catastrophically, with tenants and their families thrown out of their homes in the cold winter months.
Hochul stated that the moratorium would be concluding but also spoke about a letter she signed Tuesday along with other state governors to ask the federal government for more financial support.
The Legal Aid Society, a nonprofit legal aid provider based in NYC, announced in a statement Jan. 12 that they were encouraging New Yorkers in need of financial assistance and eviction protection to apply for New York State’s Emergency Rent Relief Program (ERAP). ERAP reopened Tuesday following a court ruling in Hidalgo v. New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), which ordered the OTDA to resume accepting need-based applications.
“New York’s ERAP portal has reopened, resuming access to rental assistance for our clients and countless other families at risk of eviction,” said Ed Josephson, Supervising Attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society on Jan. 12. “We urge all New Yorkers in need of rent relief to immediately apply for funds through the OTDA web portal, as a pending application will provide temporary protection from eviction, regardless of whether the state receives additional funding. We are proud of our advocacy on behalf of our clients and all low-income New Yorkers, and will continue to monitor the implementation of statewide rent relief funds.”
When ERAP’s portal for applications closed on Nov. 14, 2021 – despite funds not being fully exhausted – tenants were once again at risk of eviction. According to the Legal Aid Society, without the court order reopening ERAP applications, 400,000 New York families behind on rent but had not yet applied for ERAP would have been vulnerable to eviction when New York’s statewide moratorium ends on Jan 15, 2022.
“Since its creation, ERAP has paid $1.25 billion in rent arrears for 100,000 families and approved an additional $770 million to pay the arrears of an additional 62,000 families whose landlords have not yet completed paperwork needed for release of the payments,” said the Legal Aid Society in an email statement Jan. 12. “Although New York State has spent or committed all its current ERAP funds, it will be eligible to apply for additional funding this Spring from an $18 billion national pool of unspent ERAP funds.”
Under the state’s ERAP statute, tenants who submit applications will be temporarily protected from eviction Jan. 15, pending a decision on their application. On Jan. 6, the court ordered a preliminary injunction instructing the OTDA to begin accepting new ERAP applications within three days or at the latest by, Jan 11, 2022
Tenants in need of financial assistance can visit New York State’s ERAP portal at otda.ny.gov/programs/emergency-rental-assistance/.