Albany better move fast to get federal funds to tenants and landlords

New York Post, Aug. 18

Albany is sitting on billions in federal money meant for tenants and landlords, a new audit out Monday from state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli shows. Yet instead of moving to hand out the funds faster, lawmakers are simply eyeing a new ban on evictions, which will only further hurt both groups.

Of the state’s $2.6 billion in federal rent-bailout money, less than $100 million has been doled out, the report found — only 4% of the total. Just 7,000 families have received help, of 168,000 applications for assistance.

“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.”

Yet rather than pushing the Cuomo administration to speed up payments, Albany lawmakers are contemplating an extension of the state’s current eviction ban, which expires at the end of the month. That will leave landlords hanging.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a portion of New York’s eviction moratorium. And on Monday, a half-dozen lawmakers called for an emergency session of the Legislature to pass a new eviction moratorium. Meanwhile, landlords have their own bills to pay; they get no such moratorium.

Besides hurting building owners, a failure to get out the money by Sept. 30 puts it at risk, under a federal use-it-or-lose-it deadline.

“There is enormous need from tenants who fear losing their homes and landlords who need rental assistance to keep their buildings running,” pleads Judith Goldiner, the top attorney at the left-leaning Legal Aid Society. “And it’s simply horrifying that months after applications began, only 7,000 households have gotten rent paid.”

She’s right. And another eviction ban would only make matters worse. Get moving, Albany.


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