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Rent relief for COVID income loss — State offers grants to households

If you’re renting on Shelter Island — or anywhere in New York — and trying to balance a tight budget because of lost income due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the New York State Legislature is offering relief.

Called the COVID-19 Rental Relief Program, the program will provide eligible households with a rental subsidy sent directly to their homes. It’s not a loan, but a grant that doesn’t have to be repaid.

Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill extending a halt in evictions for residential renters who have suffered economic hardship due to the pandemic.

A first ban against evictions was made through an executive order by the governor in March, and two months later the moratorium was extended to Aug. 20. The new legislation forbids eviction beyond that.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) announced that applications for the grant program to pay rent will be accepted throughout a two-week application period. New York Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) — the state’s affordable housing agency — will accept households with the “greatest economic and social need,” according to the agency.

According to Mr. Thiele, applicants will be judged on “income, rent burden, percent of income lost and risk of homelessness. The rental assistance payment will cover the difference between the household’s rent burden on March 1, 2020 and the increase in rent burden for the months the household is applying for assistance. Households can apply for up to four months in rental assistance.”

Applicants must have lost income during the period of April 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020.

HCR has created a dedicated call center to provide residents with help, Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call the COVID Rent Relief Program Call Center at 833-499-0318 or email at [email protected]