As New York State all but ran out of its share of a federal pandemic rent relief program in the fall, state officials asked the federal government for $1 billion more — money they said was necessary to keep tens of thousands of struggling residents out of debt and in their homes.
But the state has now received some sobering news: it stands to receive about $27 million, less than 3 percent of what it requested.
The gap between the need outlined by the state and the money it is getting is yet another stark illustration of just how severe the economic crisis has been in New York and elsewhere. State and federal officials have said the need was high in places all around the country and there is only a limited pot of funds overall.
But without more aid, tens of thousands of renters who lost their jobs in the pandemic will not be able to cover their debts and could be at greater risk of eviction when a moratorium expires in less than two weeks. Landlords also will not be able to make up the lost rental income.
“If we can’t make up that shortfall, it’s going to mean that many tenants and their landlords are going to continue to struggle with the consequences of the decisions the government made in response to Covid,” said Brian Kavanaugh, a Democrat who sponsored the bill that created New York’s rent relief program and who is chair of the State Senate’s housing committee.
The funds are part of a more than $46 billion federal program, set up by Congress through two stimulus bills passed in 2020 and 2021, which is distributing aid across the nation. New York’s share was about $2.4 billion, but by the fall, nearly all of the state’s money was either paid out or spoken for, state officials had said. New York then stopped taking most new applications.
There was a chance the state could have still received more. Under the law, places that had not used much of their money could see their funds reallocated to other states with greater need. A county in Texas, for example, voted in November to return some $7 million to the federal government.
But in an email sent to the state on Thursday, an official with the Treasury Department said that “the amount of reallocated funds requested” by states like New York and other localities was “far greater than the funding available to distribute.”
The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment about how New York’s share was determined or how much other states may have received.
The amount New York is receiving in additional rent relief was reported by Law 360 on Tuesday based on information included in a court document written by Barbara C. Guinn, the executive deputy commissioner of the office of temporary and disability assistance, the state agency that is administering New York’s rent relief program.
That document was filed on Monday in a lawsuit filed by some renters and housing groups over the state’s decision to stop taking applications for rent relief.
A spokesman for Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state was “disappointed” in the amount it was slated to receive, but said the state would “continue pursuing all avenues to secure federal funding that keeps New Yorkers in their homes.”