November 12, 2021
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Announces $25 Million to Provide Free Legal Assistance for Struggling Tenants

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Governor Hochul Announces $25 Million to Provide Free Legal Assistance for Struggling Tenants
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Federal Funding to Provide Legal Assistance to Low-Income Renters Facing Eviction in Areas Where Free Legal Services are Limited   

Expands Access to Publicly Funded, Free Legal Services for Tenants in 57 Counties Outside NYC  

New Applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program Will Be Suspended Sunday Night in Most Areas of the State 

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that $25 million in federal funding will be used to provide free legal assistance to low-income renters facing eviction in areas of the state outside of New York City where access to free legal aid is not available to meet the need of these renters. The legal assistance is aimed at helping both tenants and landlords resolve rent-related disputes and maintaining tenants' housing stability. The awardees of this funding will be announced on Monday.

"The pandemic has shown us that every New Yorker deserves the stability of a home," Governor Hochul said. "This critical funding will help struggling tenants access free legal assistance they can rely on to reach a resolution with their landlord and avoid the potential for eviction proceedings. We will continue to push for additional federal funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to provide relief to renters." 

Earlier today, Governor Hochul announced that New York State has officially requested $996 million in additional federal funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The request for these funds would cover projected need over the next four months, based on already-submitted applications, as well as a portion of projected need for tenants living in publicly subsidized housing. 

New York State recently surpassed $1 billion in direct payments to landlords and has now fully obligated its $2.4 billion in funding — less than six months after first taking applications. Applications will continue to be accepted through Sunday, Nov. 14, until 10 p.m. The program will suspend accepting new applications at that time, except in the following areas, where allocations have not yet been exhausted, and where tenants are encouraged to apply: Dutchess County, Nassau County (not including the towns of Hempstead or Oyster Bay), Niagara County, Oneida County, Saratoga County, Suffolk County (not including the towns of Brookhaven or Islip), Westchester County (not including the city of Yonkers).

As part of the law, $25 million in federal funding was set aside to provide legal services to tenants facing eviction proceedings and to help them maintain housing stability in areas of the state where access to free legal assistance for such services is not readily available. Residents of New York City already have access to free legal representation in housing court to help avoid eviction.  
   
Barbara C. Guinn, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which is administering the legal assistance grants, said, "Expanding the availability of legal assistance for tenants is essential to helping New York avoid a housing crisis as residents throughout the State continue to struggle to pay rental arrears that accumulated during the pandemic. This assistance will help individuals and families to work with their landlords to help them maintain stable housing. I applaud Governor Hochul for taking action to help renters and landlords resolve disputes and avoid evictions."  

Representative Jamaal Bowman said, "This year we fought hard to protect renters from being evicted including calling for a federal eviction moratorium. I am grateful that as the federal moratorium lapsed, Governor Hochul signed an eviction moratorium for the state of New York signaling the real need to protect renters as this pandemic continues. I am in full support of legal assistance for renters, which will be a lifeline for my constituents in Westchester and the Bronx. We need every social safety net in place to assist and support the people as we continue to find solutions to combat housing insecurity."

State Senator Liz Krueger said, "While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, the threat of eviction continues to loom large over far too many New Yorkers. Thanks to Gov. Hochul's successful administration of the ERAP program, New York State is a leader in getting that money out the door and into the hands of landlords to keep New Yorkers in their homes. But the fact is, it simply isn't enough money to meet the need. New York State has the highest percentage of households who are renters in the country, and a majority of those are located in New York City. I applaud the governor for requesting additional funds from Washington — funds New Yorkers need and deserve — and for ensuring that low-income tenants outside of NYC will have access to much-needed legal assistance."

State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud said, "Across New York State, renters and landlords continue to face difficulties brought on by the Pandemic's economic fallout. With federal ERAP funds nearly exhausted, today's announcement of $25 million for statewide pro-bono legal services demonstrates a strong commitment to those facing eviction and hardship with winter just around the corner.  I join Governor Hochul and our elected colleagues in continuing to advocate for additional ERAP funding to assist New York tenants and landlords."

Assemblymember Latoya Joyner said, "Tenants can be subject to eviction proceedings that could cost them their housing, their job, their access to a quality education and their mental and physical well-being. Having access to legal counsel is crucial for those families faced with eviction and is a great investment in expanding economic justice for all New Yorkers. I thank Governor Hochul for supporting this initiative."

County Executive Laura Curran said, "The COVID-19 pandemic has put tenants and landlords in a difficult place, and I thank Governor Hochul for working with local governments to effectively deliver this much-needed relief. By providing additional ERAP assistance and making it more accessible, we can extend a lifeline to those continuing to struggle from the financial burden and uncertainty of the pandemic."

Brooklyn Borough President & Mayor-Elect Eric Adams said, "We have a looming eviction crisis in our state that will feed an already-dire homeless crisis. My earliest conversations with Governor Hochul when she entered office was for us to work together on tackling this crisis, and I am glad that she has prioritized necessary fixes to the law and getting more relief to renters and small landlords through on-the-ground public education and outreach. I stand with the Governor and our Congressional delegation in requesting that the federal government provide additional financial assistance so we can keep New Yorkers in their homes."

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "I want to thank Governor Hochul for continuing to provide funds for Buffalo's residents who are still struggling with housing insecurity as a result of the pandemic. This $25 million will help protect residents from being illegally or unfairly displaced from their homes as we enter the winter season. I also want to highlight the need for additional funding from the federal government to keep people in their homes. Our region still has not fully recovered from the pandemic's economic fall-out and many residents will continue to need rental assistance until they can get back on their feet. This additional funding will be critical to maintaining the integrity of our neighborhoods and keeping the recovery, which Governor Hochul has helped foster, on track here in Buffalo."

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, "Providing funding for free legal assistance and housing stability services to help renters avoid eviction is exactly the type of comprehensive approach we need as New York awaits additional funding from the federal government. I applaud Governor Kathy Hochul for providing this funding and join her in calling for more funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program."

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, "Both landlords and tenants will be benefit from these additional federal resources being deployed by Governor Hochul for areas outside of New York City. Free legal assistance to eligible renters who are at risk of eviction will help head off potential crises. When the end of the eviction moratorium comes, we will need every tool available to bolster the work of our community partners in assisting property owners and tenants."

Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest said, "Over 60% of our community are renters and are often times in need of support or subsidies. Even though we're seeing some post-pandemic economic recovery, the more support our lower-income renters and residents have access to the better for all involved. Keeping residents in their current housing situation will most certainly continue to stabilize the residential and job markets. These programs also ensure landlords have consistent access to consistent long-term renters."

Utica Mayor Rob Palmieri said, "The impact of COVID-19 was devastating for many individuals, and tenants who experienced a pandemic related financial hardship should be provided free legal assistance. This funding will ensure tenants, who meet eligible criteria, will have proper and adequate legal protection and representation. I applaud Governor Hochul for allocating necessary resources for this important initiative."

New York State is among the leaders in payments made or obligated, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which tracks the state-by-state implementation of ERAP. 

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640

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