Governor Cuomo and New York State Legislature Enact FY22 Budget with $3 Billion in Rent and Homeowner Relief

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York’s State Legislature approved the state’s FY22 budget, which includes significant new housing funding, continues existing programs, and creates the state’s emergency rental assistance program. In total, approximately $3 billion in combined federal and state dollars will be provided for rent and homeowner relief in the state. New York advocates, including members from NLIHC’s state partner New York Housing Conference (NYHC), applaud the efforts of New York legislators to secure additional funding for housing. Leaders in this effort included Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Housing Chair Brian Kavanagh, and Assembly Housing Chair Steven Cymbrowitz.

The final budget enacts the “Covid-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program of 2021,” New York State's new rent relief program (legislation linked here, page 70), which utilizes funding from federal stimulus packages from December and March. The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) will administer the program. The program will use $2.3 billion in federal funds and $100 million in state funds. The additional $100 million can be used to:

  1. Supplement the federal funds
  2. Provide relief for households with incomes greater than the 80% AMI if a household member is in a priority population defined by the bill
  3. Provide assistance to landlords

The legislative language authorizing the $100 million in supplemental state funding is broad; it does not appear to include a limit on income eligibility or guidance on the assistance for landlords. NYHC staff will seek more details on intended use of this funding. 

Residents of public housing and tenants of other federal and state subsidized housing where rent is limited to a percentage of income are eligible for assistance only if funds remain after all others are served. This language concerns advocates, as it can potentially be interpreted to exclude tenants in affordable housing without rental assistance. NYHC’s network understands this is not the bill's intent and is working with other housing organizations to ensure that this program will not prohibit or delay assistance to tenants in low-income housing tax credit buildings who are otherwise eligible.

For approved applications, funding will go directly to landlords. If the landlord does not accept the payment within twelve months, they are deemed to have waived the covered rent and cannot initiate an action based on nonpayment of the rent. Landlords who accept payments are agreeing to certain tenant protections, including: 1) covering arrears and to waiving late fees; 2) not increasing the rent above the amount that was due at the time of application for one year after the first payment; 3) not evicting for an expired lease or holdover for 12 months after the first payment; and 4) notifying the tenant of the protections. 

The administration is required to report monthly on its website the number of applicants; the number of recipients that chose to participate; the number of eligible households that received assistance including the category of assistance; and the average amount of funding provided per eligible household. The legislation requires housing court to provide information to residents in court about how to apply for assistance. 

While some of NYHC’s major concerns regarding tenants’ ability to self-attest and access for undocumented households have been addressed in the legislation, advocates remain concerned about timely access and advanced processing of priority populations, which may delay processing overall. Additionally, some of the new guidance from Treasury conflicts with New York’s program, such as decreasing the time allowed for landlord response and allowing for direct-to-tenant assistance. Further, the state may have to reconsider language regarding tenants of federally subsidized housing who are currently eligible only if funds remain after all others are served. It is unclear how these changes will impact rollout, and NYHC staff will continue to monitor this issue.

In addition to codifying the emergency rental assistance program, the budget includes funding for new and existing programs. $100 million is allocated for a new rental assistance program called the Transitional Rent Supplement Program, which will allow local jurisdictions to design programs and apply for funding. $200M in capital funding is allocated for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and $125M for public housing across the state for weatherization, heating, elevators, lead remediation, and other critical maintenance projects. NYHC’s network is pleased to see public housing funding included in the FY22 budget, however they believe the state should live up to its responsibility and commit to ongoing funding for NYCHA and other public housing. The budget allocates $100 million to create the Adaptive Reuse Affordable Housing Program to convert commercial properties and hotels in New York City to permanent affordable housing. There was no program language attached to this funding. NYHC staff will continue to monitor for legislative action. The enacted state budget also includes $250 million for supportive housing ($186 million in Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) and $64 million in OTDA’s Homeless Housing and Assistance Program (HHAP)) for year 6 of the supportive housing plan and extends Low-Income Housing Credits for five years for $8 million per year.

In addition to rental assistance, the budget includes funding for homeowner assistance and energy assistance. The Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) will receive $20 million per year for the next three years to provide foreclosure prevention services. The Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC) will receive a historical funding increase of $51 million. The money will be used to fund affordable homeownership opportunities and should help fill budget gaps for many halted projects. The final budget also allocates $950 million to the Home Energy Assistance Program, which is an increase of $450 million. This program helps low-income households pay for the costs of heating their homes.

“The State Legislature really delivered on housing in the budget in so many ways this year,” said Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference. “We saw many of our priorities reflected. And we’re very thankful to the New York Congressional Delegation for securing this level of housing assistance for New Yorkers. Now we just have to make sure our rent relief program gets funds out as quickly as possible to meet the urgent need across our state.”

To learn more about New York Housing Conference and New York’s FY22 budget, email Brendan Cheney, director of policy and communications at New York Housing Conference, at: [email protected]