Applying for rental assistance is protecting some tenants from eviction

January 22, 2022

The day before New York’s statewide eviction moratorium was set to expire on Saturday, residents of state Sen. Cordell Cleare’s upper Manhattan district got a prerecorded call from her office in Harlem.


“Tenants who’ve lost income due to COVID-19 and were unable to pay rent during the pandemic may once again apply to the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program,” Cleare’s message said. “Applying for the program will help protect eligible tenants from eviction, and get them in line for funding if more arrives.”


That funding may never come. But lawmakers and advocates across the state, like Cleare, are scrambling to let tenants know that the built-in eviction stay for ERAP applicants with pending cases is one of several reasons last weekend’s moratorium-end may not mean inevitable or immediate eviction for nonpaying tenants.


According to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which is overseeing the program, more than 255,000 New York households were already protected from eviction under ERAP prior to last week. More than 6,600 people applied since the portal reopened – it started accepting petitions again on Jan. 11 — after a judge ruled it had closed prematurely, even though funding has dried up.


But even for those tenants who never put in ERAP applications, the eviction process cannot happen overnight.


“For nonpayment of rent eviction, the law changed in New York in 2019 to make these timeframes stretch out longer,” said Robert Romaker, managing attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York. His office represents tenants across five counties in the region: Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene.


Read more on the Times Union website.