Westchester Landlords Weigh In on Technical Issues, Frustrations with New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
(Armonk, N.Y.) Lisa De Rosa, President of The Building & Realty Institute (BRI) submitted testimony on behalf of Westchester landlords and the BRI’s Apartment Owners Advisory Council (AOAC) on Tuesday, August 10, 2021 at a New York State Assembly hearing convened to examine the application process and implementation of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP.)
Based on survey results and discussions with BRI members, her testimony reported that landlords faced two constant technical problems with ERAP: difficulty with the owner’s identification system, and a perennial problem with uploading documents on the portal run by the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA). Another issue that landlords have faced is contradictory, confusing, or even incorrect information from the OTDA notifications and tech support, with glitches being commonplace on the portal.
However, the biggest concern is outside of OTDA’s control. The interaction between the New York State eviction moratorium and the state’s rent relief program has been even worse than feared. According to a recent BRI member survey, the number of tenants who owed arrears but had not begun the process of applying to ERAP or the Yonkers program (based on the landlords’ knowledge) was 180% of the number of tenants who had begun an application, demonstrating either sever difficulties or a a lack of urgency in applying for the funds on the part of some tenants.
New York received approximately $2.6 billion in federal funding to enact the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) in order to assist households that have been unable to pay residential rent and/or utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.