New York so far has only disbursed a fraction of the billions of dollars in federal and state aid meant to aid renters and landlords who have struggled financially during the COVID-19 pandemic, a report released on Monday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office found.
The report found only $108.8 million out of more than $2 billion has been disbursed under the Emergency Rental Assistance Fund out of the billions of dollars New York has for the program as of Aug 12.
“There are billions in federal aid to help renters who fell behind on payments in the pandemic, but this money isn’t getting to them,” DiNapoli said. “The state can and must do a better job getting this aid into the hands of New Yorkers that could face evictions. New York’s Congressional delegation has pushed for more efficient distribution of funds, while lawmakers have rightly proposed extending the state’s eviction moratorium. We must make sure that we don’t lose these critical funds, and that the renters most in need of help don’t get left behind.”
DiNapoli's report faulted poor management of the program and its implementation by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Aid in many instances has not reached low-income people and people of color, especially in New York City.
The report also comes as lawmakers are being urged to return to Albany for a special session of the Legislature and strengthen the state's eviction moratorium, which is set to expire at the end of the month. A portion of the moratorium was blocked last week by the U.S. Supreme Court, though renters can continue to stave off eviction through a court proceeding and by providing evidence of a financial hardship created by the pandemic.
The report found the agency has received 168,321 applications at the end of July, less than 15% of the 1.2 million low-income households in New York City where tenants live. Through Aug. 9, the agency has made payments to only 7,072 households.
At the same time, the state is lagging behind the rest of the country. New York and South Carolina are the only two states to have not distributed any money through June, DiNapoli said.