The inauguration of the long-awaited emergency fare assistance program was hampered by technical glitches and error messages on the state’s online application portal..
To Robert W. of Westchester, State’s new rent relief program There is a chance to cover five months of dues and get your family back on a strong financial footing after a layoff and a vacation.
He owes his landlord $10,500, and he hopes to be one of the first New Yorkers to apply for the state’s brand new Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which opened Tuesday for tenants affected by COVID-19. Will send cash to landlords on behalf of – 19 Pandemic.
State-run online form glitches kept him from receiving applications until 4 p.m. Tuesday, but Robert kept a positive attitude. The aid would mean “very little worry about some upcoming medical expenses and a planned operation for someone in my family,” he says (he asked landlords and associates not to use his last name for fear of future retaliation). asked for). “If some professional changes work we could be back on track in a few months.”
Despite several technical issues and errors, the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) said more than 7,000 people applied for the program in the first four hours after it opened on Tuesday. ERAP, created with more than $2 billion in COVID relief funds from the federal government, will send money directly to landlords who have low- to middle-income tenants Demonstrate that they could not pay the rent as a result of the pandemic. Low-income New Yorkers—people earning less than 50 percent of the regional median income—and renters already facing eviction are given priority during the first month.
Legal service providers and advocates say they are unsure how many people will turn to them for help, but they agree on a general estimate: a lot.
Between April 16 and 28, more than a third of respondents across New York state said they were behind on their rent or mortgage and considered evictions or foreclosures “very likely” or “somewhat likely” in the next two months. Pulse survey of the US Census Bureau.
The program’s launch on Tuesday was in line with a broader effort to connect New Yorkers with vital rental assistance.
Six of New York City’s largest non-profit legal service providers and tenants’ rights groups launched the Know Your Rights campaign and Housing Helpline— 212-298-3490 — To reach immigrant tenants, including undocumented residents, to educate them about ERAP. The effort includes funding from the Legal Aid Society, Enterprise Community Partners, Make the Road New York, Riseborough Community Partnership, CAMBA, and the Robin Hood Foundation.
Legal Aid Society Supervising Attorney Ellen Davidson said, “We know that throughout the years, applying for assistance has been especially difficult for families with undiagnosed status and mixed status, and we wanted to make sure that additional support was available. Ho.”
Applicants do not need to prove their citizenship or legal status to apply for funding.
Several organizations involved in the new helpline said they have already started reaching out to customers and helping them prepare the information they need to submit. Government identification, rent receipts and formal leases work best, but OTDA will accept Landlord “verification” — stating that a tenant hasn’t paid their rent — and other documents, such as baptismal records, form ID.
Immigrants need those more informal documents in order to access the funds, says Joo-Bum Cha, attorney at the Minkwon Center, a nonprofit that primarily serves the Korean community. But landlords can’t comply with self-verification because they collect rent in cash and refuse to report the accurate total on their tax forms, he says.
“It’s a gray area,” he says, and that’s where legal aid will be important. “Since the beginning of May, we are getting 10 to 15 inquiries every day.”
The fit and start of the online application process on the first day disappointed landlords and tenants alike, who posted messages to OTDA about their problems on Twitter and Facebook. A landlord of a two-family home in Holbrook told City Limits that he called the agency twice after receiving the error message and was held up for more than half an hour both times. The landlord, a man named Bogdan, who asked not to use his last name, said the family that rented his apartment owed him $35,000. The lack of rental income has left him unable to pay his mortgage. outstanding payment is coming.
Tarren Payne, a recent social work school grad living in Harlem, said she tried to help 25 of her neighbors apply, but after hours of trying couldn’t help submit a single application.
“We have a large population of elderly people who went on vacation and lost their jobs,” she says. “I had all their documents ready and it didn’t work.”
On Twitter, OTDA suggested Applicants who receive the error message “should clear their browser history, including cookies and cached data and images.” Some users replied that the quick fix worked for them. It didn’t work to get that.
“To see this kind of inefficiency and ineffectiveness, you’d think they’d know better,” she said.
Justin La Mort, a housing attorney with the Mobilization for Justice (MFJ) organization, said he gave careful consideration to the first day of applications, especially after the state’s first, much smaller, rent relief website. crashed immediately last July. It didn’t happen this time – a lesser barrier to success, but a good start nonetheless, La Mort said.
“I planned an experiment day for it and then hopefully they can figure it out on their end,” he said.
He said that over the next several weeks, the MFJ and other organizations across the state would work to connect as many people to the program as possible to keep them in their homes. Existing Removal Protection Expires in August.
“We don’t know how many people will actively reach out to us,” La Mort says. “So we’re going to be doing a lot of presentations with community organizations and local elected people just to try to spread the word.”
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