$20 million earmarked for Westchester applicants
As of June 1, 2021, Westchester County residents are now eligible to apply for the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Under ERAP, $20 million has been earmarked for Westchester County households at risk of eviction due to their inability to pay rent and utilities because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ERAP is providing financial assistance for up to 12 months of past-due rent, 3 months of prospective rental assistance and 12 months of utility arrears payments to eligible tenants, regardless of immigration status. Payments will be made directly to a tenant’s landlord or property owner, and utility company. Westchester will be assisting applicants throughout the County, except in Yonkers, where tenants and landlords will work directly with the municipality and its nonprofit partners.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a tremendous amount of financial hardship to many of our most vulnerable residents, and we want them to know that help is available. ERAP can provide a significant amount of economic relief to our low- and moderate-income households at risk of housing instability, and if you meet the appropriate criteria, I encourage you to apply.
Commissioner of the Department of Planning Norma Drummond said: “Many Westchester County residents were devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and some are still struggling to get back on their feet again. This critical funding from New York State will help to ensure that those who experienced financial hardship will not become homeless and bring them the peace of mind they need to feel secure in their homes.”
Commissioner of the Department of Social Services Leonard Townes said: “The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will deliver desperately-needed help to Westchester landlords and tenants who have incurred financial hardship due to the pandemic. We at the Westchester County Department of Social Services are eager to assist tenants struggling with back rent and utility bills to apply for this lifeline.”
New York State residents are eligible for ERAP if they meet all of the following criteria:
- Household gross income is at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). These income limits differ by County and household size. A household may qualify based on current income or calendar year 2020 income that is at or below 80 percent AMI.
- On or after March 13, 2020, a member of the household received unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in income, incurred significant costs or experienced financial hardship, directly or indirectly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The applicant is obligated to pay rent at their primary residence and has rental arrears (rent overdue) at their current residence for rent owed on or after March 13, 2020.
- The household must be at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which can be demonstrated by having rental arrears owed on or after March 13, 2020.
For the first 30 days of the program, the unemployed, those with income at or below 50 percent of area median income and other vulnerable populations will be prioritized for assistance. After this period, applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
To simplify the application process, and ensure landlords and tenants have the support they need to apply, the County is partnering with 11 local nonprofit agencies to provide free aid to individuals seeking to apply for ERAP. Applicants can also call United Way of Westchester and Putnam’s 2-1-1 hotline with any questions and to find a nonprofit partner in their community. Rental counseling is available, in English and Spanish, with guidance for gathering the documents needed and access to computers to complete the application online.
For help applying, contact the following non-profits:
Marlene Zarfes, Executive Director of Westchester Residential Opportunities in White Plains, one of the 11 nonprofits with whom the county is partnering, said: “We know that the pandemic has been challenging for both tenants and landlords, and we want them to take advantage of this great funding resource. Our goal is to simplify the application process so they can get the financial relief they need. We urge applicants to act quickly. Let us help you to ensure you have all of the necessary documents in place to file your application immediately.”
The New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program is being funded by $100 million from the state and $2.6 billion in federal aid. Westchester County’s application assistance program is being administered by the Westchester County Department of Planning. For more information, visit the New York State Website.
The Westchester County Department of Planning conducts a comprehensive work program and shapes and influences growth and development in Westchester County in order to improve quality of life and protect the environment, resulting in more livable and sustainable communities. For information, visit https://planning.westchestergov.com/.