“If a moratorium is to be extended, we need assurances as owners and landlords that they are actually going to fix the PIU program to prevent evictions in the first place,” said Jay Martin, executive director of the Improvement Program. Community Housing, a trade association representing approximately 4,000 building owners.
He added that a moratorium “does nothing to ease the debt and financial burden that tenants continue to accumulate even as the moratorium continues to extend.”
So far, around $ 203 million in direct payments have been made to 15,000 homeowners, according to state officials, who say they have made progress in recent weeks. An additional $ 600 million has been committed, but not distributed. More than 46,000 tenants have had their applications provisionally approved, but discrepancies in information between tenant and landlord applications have led to a blockade, officials said.
“As expected, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides essential assistance to struggling New Yorkers, while ensuring that all who apply are protected from eviction while their application is pending,” said said Anthony Farmer, spokesperson for the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which administers the program.
Last week, Ms Hochul announced that the state would invest an additional $ 1 million in marketing and outreach efforts to publicize the rent relief program and get more people to apply. She also ordered a “quick review” of the program’s workflow and reassigned 100 contracted employees to work only on backlogs and expedite payments.
Mr Martin said his group has focused on educating small landowners about the program so that they can, in turn, educate their tenants, saying that “tenants are completely confused as to how whether or not the program protects them ”. He said, for example, that some of his members’ tenants have the false impression that their rent has been waived because of the moratorium.
And some housing attorneys have said that while some landlords refuse to accept the relief money, many haven’t been able to figure out how to navigate the complicated process to get it.