The Town of Huntington is among the Long Island municipalities...

The Town of Huntington is among the Long Island municipalities that have rent relief funds remaining. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

New York State will stop accepting applications for federal rent relief at 9 p.m. on Jan. 20.

The COVID-19-era aid has been exhausted in many parts of the state, but assistance remains available in the towns of Huntington and North Hempstead, as well as in less populous communities that have access to Nassau and Suffolk counties' money, the state said. These funds may be exhausted when the state works through already-submitted applications. Localities with funds left can issue rent relief payments and then if money still remains, may be able to put the funds toward housing stability services, other affordable housing activities or eviction prevention, according to the U.S. Treasury.

The federal rent relief covers rent for lower-income tenants who suffered financially because of the pandemic. Payments are issued directly to landlords and may include up to 12 months worth of past-due rent and three months of upcoming rent.

Most localities had the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance administer their share of federal funding to minimize administrative expenses. The towns of Hempstead, Islip and Oyster Bay chose to independently distribute the aid and are not affected by the state portal closing.

OTDA has directed about $94 million for rent and utility assistance in Long Island localities partnering with the state on rent relief, the agency said Wednesday.

"We have clearly delivered for the people of New York, protecting hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from eviction during the pandemic," OTDA Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz said in a statement. "This program has overwhelmingly benefited some of our most vulnerable communities with nearly nine out of ten payments made on behalf of households at or below 50 percent of the area median income."

The Town of North Hempstead has about $2.2 million remaining, OTDA said Wednesday. Nassau County has about $1.3 million in aid left. Suffolk County's roughly $4.2 million may be used in the five eastern towns and Smithtown, OTDA and the county said.

"We received official notification today [Wednesday] regarding the closure of the portal and are working to determine next steps regarding the funding," Suffolk County spokeswoman Marykate Guilfoyle said in a statement.

The Town of Huntington has about $2.3 million left of what it received from the state once the town exhausted its federal funds, said Timothy Francis, deputy director of the Huntington Community Development Agency. He anticipates all of the money getting spent as the state works through about 185 applications pending in the town.

Renters in communities with entirely or nearly drained funds may still buy themselves time by applying for assistance. In many lawsuits alleging nonpayment of rent, tenants who apply for the rent relief program will have their cases frozen while their paperwork is reviewed, according to Jericho-based attorney Bradley Schnur, who represents tenants and landlords. The state won't reject applicants simply because their region has run out of money.

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