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Brookhaven only locality to exhaust its rent relief, officials say

Brookhaven residents are no longer able to fill

Brookhaven residents are no longer able to fill out an application on the website of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the agency administering federal aid on behalf of most localities on Long Island.  Credit: Town of Brookhaven

The Town of Brookhaven has exhausted its roughly $29 million share of federal rent relief.

The state estimates a fraction of rent relief funding is left for most parts of Long Island. It stopped accepting applications from Brookhaven residents Sunday night, according to Town Supervisor Edward Romaine. Albany was aware — but didn’t clearly communicate — that the area’s funding was likely gone in the days leading up to that, Romaine said.

Since the town and nonprofits urged people to apply during this period, Romaine argues the state should provide enough money to cover any unfunded, but qualified submissions among the more than 3,000 received from Brookhaven.

"We have 3,000 [applications] now, and they’re saying they can’t fund these," Romaine said. "If we didn’t shut down that program, it would have had 5,000 applications."

Nearly $14.79 million in rent relief has been issued on behalf of 850 households in Brookhaven as of Nov. 9, according to state data. The remainder of the town’s roughly $29 million has been obligated — or set aside for an undisclosed number of tenants who were deemed qualified, but can’t be fully approved without paperwork from their landlord or other information. The assistance is issued directly to landlords and covers rent for low-income tenants who suffered financially because of COVID-19.

The state said it alerted Brookhaven last month that its funds were dwindling, according to the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which is administering federal rent relief on behalf of most localities on Long Island. The state itself is running out of aid, OTDA said.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has requested $996 million from the federal government, which OTDA believes would cover unmet demand. The state initially had about $2.1 billion in aid, once subtracting estimated administrative and outreach expenses, OTDA said. The agency has received 278,700 applications, issued 81,210 payments worth $1.02 billion and committed $1.09 billion for roughly 86,830 additional households, according to data current through Nov. 9.

Not all relief dollars are committed, but they are in many parts of the state, OTDA said. Funding is still available in every part of Long Island outside of Brookhaven, according to OTDA and town officials. The state has issued $27.42 million on behalf of 1,555 Long Island households — or just over a quarter of the more than 6,080 applications filed from the Island, according to OTDA figures current through Nov. 9. The agency couldn’t immediately provide data on how much more was obligated, but believes a small fraction of the funding on Long Island is left once these commitments are considered.

Three towns are independently distributing their share of the money — Islip, Hempstead and Oyster Bay. They still have funds available and are accepting applications, town officials said.

Romaine said he was "very concerned" about those who will struggle without the aid.

Brookhaven residents may submit a "notify me" form to OTDA, which will then alert them if more assistance becomes available.

They may also be eligible for a $125 million program the state started for middle-income New Yorkers.

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