Is there any emergency housing assistance? Millions of families across the nation are at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic and many programs can help protect them against eviction and provide rental assistance.
Emergency Housing Assistance
Communities receiving emergency rental assistance funding from Treasury typically establish local programs administered by various non-profit organizations, with rules and policies varying depending on where it’s administered.
Over one third of American households – 44 million people – rent their homes. Unfortunately, rising housing costs have caused many families to fall behind on rent payments and other monthly expenses resulting in unexpected problems such as eviction.
State and local programs are providing billions in emergency rental assistance to assist tenants in remaining housed, but its availability can be limited; to increase their chances of receiving it they should take certain steps.
Landlords who accept payments from these programs should note that New York Attorney General Letitia James has issued a ruling prohibiting rent increases within one year after receiving their payments from these programs. This rule applies to landlords receiving assistance through State ERAP as well as those participating in Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8), public housing or any type of subsidized housing whose rent is dependent upon income and annual recalculation.
Jason Wu, a housing attorney and trustee for the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, notes that landlords may be willing to negotiate repayment agreements with tenants who have fallen behind on their rent payments. It’s essential for tenants to communicate with their landlord about what has occurred and why they no longer can make payments on time.
As New York City residents face more regular evictions, it is vitally important that they know their rights and how this could impact emergency housing assistance. Being evicted can be costly, can harm credit ratings and make finding suitable living arrangements harder in the future.
Landlords must follow specific procedures before they can evict a tenant, including providing written notice to pay or quit (also referred to as “14-day notice” or an “pay rent or quit notice”). Furthermore, this letter should either be personally delivered or posted in a conspicuous location on the property.
If the tenants do not pay or vacate by the end of the ten-day cure period, landlords can pursue an eviction lawsuit and give a 30-day notice if they continue living there after that.
When landlords serve eviction papers, they must make every reasonable attempt to deliver them at least three times on different days and post them in an obvious place, filing an affidavit with the court swearing they did so. If you receive these papers and need help immediately, bring them directly to Pine Tree Legal or contact your local legal aid organization as soon as possible for assistance.
Real estate in an ideal world would feature tenants paying their rent on time, and landlords responding quickly to maintenance requests. Unfortunately, in reality some landlords and tenants may disagree, leading to legal battles which overwhelm court systems.
When disputes between landlords and tenants cannot be settled amicably, it’s essential for both parties to seek legal advice immediately – particularly if the dispute entails tenant rights issues; tenants often worry that asserting these can trigger reprisals from landlords.
Landlord-tenant disputes can arise for various reasons, including nonpayment of rent or damage to the property. In New York, landlords are legally obliged to comply with local housing laws and provide tenants with an “implied warranty of habitability”, meaning they must regularly inspect their properties and make repairs as required, including those necessary within each unit.
Landlords involved in disputes over the condition or amount of rent should try mediation as soon as they notice any issues with tenants, rather than turning the matter over to legal authorities. Landlords can set clear expectations with tenants at the outset – for instance when rent is due or how to report maintenance issues – by outlining specific dates when payment will be expected or how they should report maintenance problems. It is beneficial for both parties involved to document these conversations so as to see if their behavior has changed over time.
Many communities provide financial assistance for temporary rental needs through programs administered by local government offices, community centers or social service agencies. Furthermore, these organizations may help identify additional resources and support systems available in your community.
If you are experiencing a housing crisis, contact your local HUD office for more information about emergency housing assistance programs available to you in your area. Be sure to understand eligibility requirements as well as any pertinent details for each program before submitting an application and ensure it was received and being processed by appropriate authorities. Once submitted, follow-up with them regularly so they know your application was successfully received and processed.
New York City residents in need of emergency housing assistance may qualify for rent vouchers through HUD’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, which offers rent vouchers to individuals either currently homeless or at risk of homelessness. It offers vouchers to low-income families, single mothers with children under 21, domestic violence victims and victims of stalking or human trafficking as well as victims of domestic violence or stalking or human trafficking. HUD also operates its Disaster Housing Assistance Program which assists those displaced due to natural disasters find short-term emergency housing assistance from both HUD programs as well as local governments, private charities, or nonprofit organizations.