Capital Region

Cuomo to extend state’s COVID Rent Relief Program


Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to sign an executive order expanding eligibility for New York state’s COVID Rent Relief Program and reopening its application window.

In announcing the move on Thursday, Cuomo said the program, which was created by the state legislature when it passed the Emergency Rent Relief Act of 2020, appropriated up to $100 million from the federal CARES Act to provide subsidies for tenants who lost income due to the pandemic. Based on the legislature’s parameters, as much as $40 million is expected to be paid to eligible applicants, roughly 15,000 New York households. Cuomo said the executive order will expand the program’s eligibility so more rent relief can be provided to New Yorkers.

“The legislature passed a rent assistance bill,” Cuomo said. “The rent assistance bill appropriated $100 million, up to $100 million, but had eligibility requirements on what income levels could qualify. We ran the program. The number of eligible applicants, only brought us to $40 million in rental aid by the parameters of the law. By executive order, I’m going to change the law. I’ve spoken to the legislative leaders about this — reopen the application window, extend the eligibility requirements to help more New Yorkers.”

Cuomo noted that officials in Washington, D.C. are considering passage of a bill which would help with state and local financing, unemployment insurance, transportation aid, and vaccination funding. He discussed what he described as the current bipartisan compromise bill of $908 billion, saying he supports the plan because New York needs help “desperately” and “something is better than nothing.” He suggested passage of the bill would serve as a “first down payment,” which he urged members of Congress to approve before they leave Washington for Christmas.

“It would be a short-term bill until March and I would urge them to get this first down payment bill passed before they leave just so families have funding for the holiday season and it takes some pressure off state and local governments. They would then have to come back and do a real bill next year,” Cuomo said.

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