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Babylon offers rent relief for tenants affected by COVID-19

Gwen O'Shea, president and chief executive of Community

Gwen O'Shea, president and chief executive of Community Development Corporation of Long Island, in 2020. Her agency will help administer rent relief in Babylon. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Town of Babylon is partnering with a Long Island nonprofit to provide nearly $1.4 million in rent relief to town residents financially impacted by COVID-19.

The relief, which comes from the town’s second round of federal CARES Act funding, is being administered through Community Development Corporation of Long Island, an affordable housing nonprofit based in Centereach. The town received $1.64 million and will use $1.39 million toward rent relief with about $254,000 of the remaining money being split between the town and the nonprofit for administrative costs.

"The Town of Babylon is a middle class, blue collar, hardworking town," said Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer. "I can name a whole bunch of people I run into . . . who have told me of the struggles they are facing."

The program is open to all residents with past-due rent who earn up to 80% of the area median income, which would come out to $71,000 annually for an individual and $101,000 annually for a family of four, said Gwen O'Shea, president and chief executive of the housing nonprofit. They must also prove that their income has been affected by COVID-19.

Renters will be eligible for up to three months’ worth of the fair market value of their rent, O’Shea said. For instance, a two-bedroom unit would qualify for up to $2,000 in rent, she said. The back rent relief is for residential units only and will be paid directly to the landlord or property owner.

The program will not only help suffering renters but also landlords and even local businesses, as money gets circulated back into the economy, O’Shea said.

"So many of our landlords and our property owners are dependent on that income they get from the rent," she said. "Now they’re struggling. We’ve seen that sort of multiplier effect here."

O’Shea said there are 15,000 rental households in the town and that depending on the amounts of rent owed, she estimates the program will be able to help 100 to 220 households.

"We know it’s certainly not going to address all of the issues that people are facing but we start to chip away at some of the impact and move on the path to better days," she said.

Intake for eligibility is taking place now through 11:59 p.m. on March 19. Residents can go to cdcli.org or call 1-800-375-1014 for assistance, which can be provided in English, Spanish and Creole. The town also has Turkish and Polish speakers to assist with the process.

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