SFY 2021-22 Budget Includes Critical Funding for Social Services, Housing and a Rent Relief Program for Those Impacted by COVID-19

Plan Includes Approximately $3 Billion in Rent & Homeowner Relief for Those Impacted by COVID-19

Speaker Carl Heastie today announced that the approved State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2021-22 Budget makes investments in critical social service programs and public housing, as well as providing rent and homeowners relief programs for those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since the pandemic began, the Assembly Majority has worked to institute policies and make investments to help New Yorkers stay in their homes,” Speaker Heastie said. “This budget will create relief plans that build on the work we have done since last spring to keep tenants and homeowners across the state from losing their homes. It also continues investment in the affordable housing and social services programs we fight for every year in the budget.”

“Too many New Yorkers have lost too much over the course of this pandemic,” Housing Committee Chair Steven Cymbrowitz said. “This year’s budget includes a plan that will keep our friends and neighbors from losing their homes, and continue to make the critical investments in public housing that the Assembly Majority fights for every year.”

“New Yorkers and their families have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. From Buffalo to Brooklyn, Rochester to New Rochelle, our communities are contending with unprecedented food and housing insecurity, along with record levels of homelessness and health inequities. I am proud of the investments the 2021-22 state budget is making to ensure we have a more reliable social safety net for all New Yorkers, including more robust funding for housing, to stave off the looming eviction crisis, ameliorate the homelessness crisis, address hunger, prevent domestic violence and help families struggling with child care. Along with my colleagues in the Assembly, I will continue to work on long-term solutions to some of our state’s most intractable problems,” said Social Services Committee Chair Linda B. Rosenthal.

The budget would provide $325 million in capital funding to housing authorities across New York State, including $200 million for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

Rent Relief

In total, approximately $3 billion in combined federal and state dollars will be provided for rent and homeowner relief, including:

  • $100 million for a hardship fund for those who cannot access funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program;
  • $100 million to reduce homelessness; and
  • $575 million in federal homeowner relief, including a three year, $60 million commitment to fund the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) to provide legal assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure.

New York received $2.3 billion in federal funding for Emergency Rental Assistance to aid eligible renters with rental arrears, utility and home energy costs or arrears, and future rent. The spending plan includes a proposal to get this rent relief funding to New Yorkers most in need quickly and efficiently.

Those eligible under federal guidelines include individuals who have qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19 and have a household income below 80 percent of the area mean income (AMI). Those guidelines require prioritization of those with income under 50 percent AMI and those who have been unemployed for 90 days prior to applying. Under the plan, priority would also be granted to renters living in buildings of 20 units or fewer, vulnerable populations such as victims of domestic violence, survivors of human trafficking, veterans, renters from communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, those involved in eviction proceedings, and those who have accrued rental arrears on the land underneath their manufactured home.

Under the Legislature’s proposal, during the first 30 days, applications would be processed in the following order of priority: applicants earning under 50 percent AMI who also qualify under one of the additional priorities, all applicants earning under 50 percent AMI, applicants earning up to 80 percent AMI who also qualify under one of the additional priorities and then all applicants earning up to 80 percent AMI. After 30 days applications would be processed on a first come, first served basis.

Both landlords and tenants would be eligible to apply, but tenants would be required to give consent before a payment could be issued on their behalf. Benefits would include up to 12 months of rental and utility arrears, with the potential for an additional three months of prospective rental assistance to ensure housing stability. Funding would be allocated equitably across the state with at least 65 percent of the funding directed toward New York City and 35 percent directed toward the rest of the state during the first 30 days of the program, and the opportunity for funds to be redistributed based on need thereafter.

In order to receive the funding, landlords would be required to agree not to evict due to an expired lease or holdover tenancy for one year, to waive late fees for arrears covered by the program and not to raise rent for a year. Tenants would receive proof that rent was paid on their behalf or, in the event of an unresponsive landlord, that a reserve payment is being held for them. Tenants would be able to use proof of eligibility to protect themselves against legal action based on arrears that would have been covered by the program.

The application would be available, at a minimum, in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Yiddish, Haitian (French Creole), Bengali, and to the extent possible, other commonly used non-English languages. Municipalities would create and implement a statewide outreach campaign focusing on small landlords, communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, veterans, domestic violence victims and individuals with pending eviction cases.

Included in the approved spending plan is $100 million to establish Transitional Rental Assistance, which will provide assistance statewide to help individuals experiencing homelessness get off the streets and back into their homes. Supplements would be provided to individuals in amount no less than 85 percent of the Fair Market Rent (FMR) and provided until the household’s income reaches 30 percent of the total monthly rent. Funding would be equitably distributed across the state based on local social services districts with high levels of homelessness. 

Social Services

The approved spending plan includes $200 million for Pandemic Emergency Assistance, which will provide federal funds to local social services districts for flexible emergency services, as well as funding for services for survivors of domestic violence, food assistance for older New Yorkers, and support for families in need to purchase diapers for children under three years of age. It also includes $120 million for the Water Assistance Program, which is supported by federal funds and will help low income people pay drinking and waste water arrears and other related expenses.

The budget also provides $21.96 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding for the following programs:

  • $8.5 million for Facilitated Enrollment;
  • $5 million in additional funding for Advantage Afterschool;
  • $4 million for ATTAIN;
  • $1.4 million for Career Pathways;
  • $800,000 for ACCESS;
  • $785,000 for Preventive Services;
  • $475,000 for the Wage Subsidy Program;
  • $334,000 for SUNY/CUNY childcare;
  • $200,000 for the Jewish Child Care Association of New York;
  • $144,000 for Wheels for Work;
  • $82,000 for Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority; and
  • $25,000 for Centro of Oneida.

The approved budget also includes:

  • Five percent local assistance withholdings for a total of $4.4 million for the Adult Shelter Reimbursement, Code Blue, Public Homes, the HIV/AIDS Welfare to Work Program and the Public Assistance Initiative for Formerly Incarcerated;
  • $3 million for refugee resettlement;
  • $1.5 million in additional funding for the Disability Advocacy Program; and
  • $200,000 for Non-Residential Domestic Violence.