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Tenants can apply for a rent relief program starting today

Demonstrators call for rent relief outside of a

Demonstrators call for rent relief outside of a New York Civil Court in Brooklyn this month. Credit: EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Justin Lane

The state will begin accepting applications for one-time emergency rent relief Thursday and continue taking applications for two weeks.

The Covid Rent Relief Program application will be available online at, beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday, according to Homes and Community Renewal, a state agency. The program will provide a subsidy to the landlord of selected tenants that covers a portion of their rent for up to four months. Priority will be given to applicants with the greatest need based on financial factors and their risk of homelessness, HCR said. 

As the state ordered businesses to close and record numbers of New Yorkers filed for unemployment, state lawmakers passed legislation creating a subsidy designed to assist struggling renters. The state put $100 million from the federal coronavirus relief package toward the program.

"Since day one we made it clear that no New Yorkers should be thrown on the streets because of hardships caused by this pandemic," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a news release. "The Covid Rent Relief Program reinforces that commitment with direct assistance to those in the greatest need."

State legislative leaders indicated in the news release that more assistance will be needed, and that the federal government should provide it.

HCR did not immediately respond when asked how many households the program is expected to serve. Cuomo has issued executive orders preventing, until Aug. 20, the eviction of tenants who are struggling due to COVID-19 and who did not pay rent. 

The subsidy will ensure that recipients pay the same portion of their income in rent before and after their financial situation changed. For example, a family that put $700 — or 35% — of its $2,000 monthly income toward rent and now earns $1,400 a month, would receive $210 a month in assistance. This would allow the family to continue dedicating 35% of its monthly income to rent. 

To be eligible for the subsidy, households must have lost income between April 1 and July 31 and have at least one citizen or person with "eligible immigration" status. Applicants must also have earned less than 80% of the area median income and spent more than 30% of their income on rent since before March 1. The state published a chart with income eligibility limits by county and family size, which is available online, at

The state anticipates sending payments to landlords by the end of summer, HCR said. 

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