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There's one week left to apply for COVID-19 rent relief from the state

Rent-burdened families can apply for the COVID-19 Rent

Rent-burdened families can apply for the COVID-19 Rent Relief program until Feb. 1, according to the agency administering the aid. Credit: Johnny Milano

Long Islanders have one week left to seek state rent relief.

The COVID-19 Rent Relief program will accept applications through 11:59 p.m. Feb. 1, according to the agency administering the aid, Homes and Community Renewal. Selected tenants may benefit from HCR paying a portion of their rent for up to four months. The assistance is provided directly to landlords through one-time payments.

To qualify, Long Islanders must have made no more than 80% of the metro area median income before the pandemic hit, and when requesting the assistance. A chart detailing area median income by household size is available at nwsdy.li/income.

Applicants must have lost income between April 1 and July 31, 2020, and have been rent-burdened during that period. The state defines rent-burdened as families that put more than 30% of monthly earnings toward rent.

"The pandemic has clearly put even more pressure on New Yorkers who were already housing insecure," HCR spokesman Brian Butry said in a statement. "By revising the program’s eligibility criteria and reopening the application window, we can expand access to rent relief while building on Governor Cuomo’s eviction protections."

HCR resumed taking applications in mid-December after a first round used just 40% of the $100 million set aside for the program. The state received 94,000 submissions and denied at least 60% of them, according to an HCR report published when the agency was nearly done reviewing applications. HCR said it would evaluate previously denied applications and assess whether tenants may now qualify for aid.

The state broadened the eligibility criteria in the second round and opened up the assistance to renters who were not rent-burdened before March 7, 2020, but hit that threshold during the pandemic. HCR did not respond when asked how many applications it has fielded during the second submission period.

Applications are available online, at nwsdy.li/rentrelief.

Long Islanders can get help applying through a call center, available at 1-833-499-0318 or covidrentrelief@hcr.ny.gov. The center is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the business week.

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