GOSHEN – Tenants behind in paying rent and/or utility bills due to a COVID-19 hardship may be eligible for the New York State Rental Assistance Program, which is funded by the federal government and administered in partnership with the county’s Departments of Social Services and Community Development.
Approximately $24 million is available to help those who are up to 12 months behind in back rent, as well as to pay up to three months of future rent, depending on eligibility. Tenants and landlords who are owed rent by individuals may apply for the program. Payments will be issued directly to landlords and utility companies.
Tenants may apply to receive rental and utility bill assistance if, since March 13, 2020 and due to COVID-19, they are behind in payments; have a member of the household who has received unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in income; and meet income and other requirements.
To be eligible, adjusted gross income for 2020 cannot exceed $54,950 for an individual, $62,800 for two-person households, $70,650 for three, $78,500 for four, $84,800 for five, $91,100 for six, $97,350 for seven and $103,650 for eight.
“Many in our community are struggling to get out from under rent and utility bills that have mounted over the past 14 months due to the pandemic,” said Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus. “These funds can provide a fresh start for tenants who have fallen behind on payments, while also helping landlords who have continued to incur expenses without the ability to collect back rent.”
“We are extremely sensitive to the needs of residents who are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 and are anxious to distribute these funds that can help individuals and families get back on their feet,” said Darcie Miller, commissioner of the county’s Department of Social Services.
Renters who meet eligibility criteria and landlords who have eligible tenants in arrears are encouraged to apply soon, as funds will be distributed on a rolling basis. The application process opened on Tuesday, June 1. Information is available at www.orangecountygov.com/2057/Emergency-Rental-Assistance or Orange County residents may call 311. The direct link to the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is nysrenthelp.otda.ny.gov/en/.
The county’s 311 hotline can also help locate immediate housing for those living in unlivable or temporary conditions, and individuals fleeing domestic violence.