BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG)—Just under $400 million has gone out to New York tenants and landlords through the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
Broome County residents collectively received more than $1.6 million in ERAP payments through Sept. 14, according to a recent report from the New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).
255 residents, or about a tenth of applicants for rent arrears, received awards for back rent and an average payment around $5,000. Broome County had the largest concentration of ERAP applications in the region, with more than 1,600 applications for rent arrears.
Nancy Williams, Commissioner of the Broome County Department of Social Services (DSS), said she initially expected the flow of applications would wane after leaders in Albany voted to extend the eviction moratorium through Jan. 15, 2022.
“I can’t say it’s slowed down,” Williams said. “I was over at our ERAP office yesterday. I looked in and they were very busy.”
Since applications opened in June, the majority of applicants from Broome County have been clustered around Binghamton and Endicott.
Williams said the county fares well when compared to similarly-sized counties, like Oneida and Schenectady.
“I think it is starting to get back on track, and part of that, the fact that we can get specific, county-specific, data on our applications is really going to help us help people,” Williams added.
Since applications for ERAP remain open, Williams said DSS will canvass specific neighborhoods to get more families to apply. Information on how to apply has also been posted on county transit busses, as well as in food distributed by the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) program, a Binghamton-based pantry.
Lawmakers expanded ERAP eligibility earlier this month to households with a gross income between 80 and 120 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). The change went into effect on Sept. 15
ERAP applicants can receive up to 12 months worth of back rent and three months of prospective rent. In Broome, the average back rent payment through Sept. 14 was approximately $5,000, and the average prospective rent payment was just over $2,200.
In Tompkins County, 104 residents have received payments for back rent, or about a fifth of applicants. The majority of applicants have Ithaca-area zip codes.
Tenants there received an average $4,600 in back rent payments. Between rent arrears and prospective rent payments, the county received close to $700,000 for renters.
Payments are made directly to the landlord or property owner on behalf of the tenant
Awards to the Southern Tier’s more rural counties remain relatively small, especially where the share of the population that rents is lower.
In Chenango County, for instance, just eight applicants have received payment, although more than 150 applications have been submitted.
Landlords who accept ERAP payment on behalf of a household must agree to not evict the household for one year from the receipt of the payment.
Tenants who owe rent because of lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be protected from eviction through the latest extension, approved by the state legislature earlier this month.