Oco News

Emergency Rental Assistance Program offers financial help

OCO has partnered with the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to help families and individuals apply for the program. ERAP provides fiscal relief for households behind on their rent and that have experienced financial hardship, that are at risk of homelessness or housing instability and that earn at or below 80 percent of area median income.

Administered by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program will provide significant economic relief to help low- and moderate-income households at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability by providing rental arrears, temporary rental assistance, and utility arrears assistance. In addition to fiscal relief, ERAP will provide significant tenant protections.

Representatives from OCO Prevention Services will assist individuals with determining eligibility for ERAP and applying for the benefits.

“OCO has established a hotline number, 315-342-7618, that people can call for information on how to apply and locations of walk-in clinics where they can receive in-person assistance, said OCO Crisis and Development Services Collaboration Manager Tina Eusepi. “Applications are now being accepted and we’re ready to help!” Eusepi is pictured here speaking with an applicant for the program.

Initially the program will prioritize the unemployed, those with income at or below 50 percent of area median income and other vulnerable populations. After the first 30 days, ERAP applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as funds remain available.

Once approved, eligible households will receive up to 12 months of past due rent. Those eligible could also receive up to 3 months of additional rental assistance, if the household spends 30 percent or more of its gross monthly income on rent. The program also will provide up to 12 months of utility arrears for eligible applicants.

New York 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.
    There are no immigration status requirements to qualify for the program.

    Households eligible for rental arrears may also be eligible for help paying utility arrears at the same rental unit.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has created numerous hardships for families and individuals,” said Eusepi. “As the Community Action Agency for Oswego County, OCO is pleased to be partnering with ERAP to help those struggling with finances to their housing. I encourage those that need assistance to call our hotline number, 315-342-7618, and let us assist you in applying for New York State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.”

    For more information on ERAP applicants and landlords should visit otda.ny.gov/programs/Emergency-Rental-Assistance.

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