The city’s emergency $200 million housing fund meant to help renters stave off eviction should be extended to New Yorkers hit by the coronavirus pandemic, according to advocates who support the measure.
The One-Shot Deal program that has helped 250,000 New Yorkers stay in their homes since 2014 largely benefits tenants facing eviction, but evictions are barred in the state through August because of the pandemic.
“The One-Shot Deal program should be expanded to allow for payments to those affected by COVID,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn) who’s drafting legislation to tweak the program. Currently, only people who can prove they’ll be able to make future rent payments after one-time assistance qualify for the program.
Many New Yorkers who are out of work because of the pandemic can’t show when they’ll have income again.
The emergency assistance program helps people who can’t meet an expense due to an unexpected situation or even including eviction, fire and domestic violence. Applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but to qualify, people must demonstrate why they can’t pay rent and show the ability to meet future payments. Unemployed renters often do not make the cut.
The average payment for rental arrears is $4,100 per person. There are about 200,000 unemployed city residents, meaning Deutsch’s bill would cost about $25 million.
Deutsch said the investment would be worth it in the long run.
“It will ultimately save money because the alternative is rampant homelessness, poverty, and widespread reliance on government assistance,” Deutsch said.
Erica, who has lived in the same rent-stabilized apartment in lower Manhattan for 40 years, told The Post she is struggling to pay her bills because her husband is out of work due to COVID-19 and she isn’t eligible for unemployment.
The emergency aid would buy her peace of mind and good faith with her landlord — while keeping her credit intact.
“If I get this rental assistance, it shows the management company we’re serious about paying,” she said.
Jay Martin, director of the Community Housing Improvement Program that represents 4,000 owners of 400,000 rent-stabilized properties across the five boroughs, backs the bill.
Isaac McGinn, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said some New Yorkers who couldn’t pay the rent for COVID-related reasons have already dipped into the fund.
“Helping New Yorkers make ends meet is our top priority in these unprecedented times and we’ve made sweeping changes to ensure New Yorkers can access our services online or by phone, including to apply for one-time rent grants,” McGinn said.
“We look forward to reviewing the legislation,” he said.
Source: Read Full Article