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Rep. Zeldin Leads Letter to Schumer, Jeffries Expressing Concern Over State’s Management of Emergency Rental Assistance Program

WASHINGTON – RealEstateRama – Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1), member of the House Financial Services Committee, along with Representatives Tom Reed (R, NY-23), Claudia Tenney (R, NY-22), Andrew Garbarino (R, NY-2), Chris Jacobs (R, NY-27), Elise Stefanik (R, NY-21) and Nicole Malliotakis (R, NY-11), sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries expressing concern over the State of New York’s administration of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

Governor Hochul recently requested additional ERAP funds from the Treasury Department. While the Governor has obligated more than $1.5 billion, the state has distributed less than half of the $1.3 billion it was allocated in the first round of Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA1) funds. Treasury has made it clear that states will receive more funds once they have “substantially expended” their ERA1 funds and obligated at least 75 percent of ERA2 funding. By this standard, New York will likely not be eligible for more assistance until Governor Hochul distributes significantly more of the state’s original allocation to landlords.

“In a press release from September 14, 2021, the U.S. Department of Treasury (“Treasury”) announced that billions of dollars from the second round of the Emergency Rental Assistance (“ERA2”) will be expeditiously made available to high-performing state and local government grantees. Treasury stated “In response to an increasing number of grantees expending their existing funds, Treasury is launching a process for high-performing grantees to draw down the remainder of their ERA2 funding. Grantees are eligible once they have substantially expended their ERA1 allocation and obligated at least 75% of the ERA2 funding that Treasury previously paid to them.

“Treasury has highlighted high performing programs from across the country which are efficiently spending federal rent relief funds and leveraging application simplification and eviction diversion programs within the courts. Housing Court is often the only venue through which parties meet to resolve rent non-payment situations and would be an effective place for federal rent relief dollars to be efficiently distributed. In New York, this has been prevented by headline-friendly, but ultimately unhelpful, eviction moratoriums that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled are faulty and punitive towards property owners. New York, thanks to heated and threatening rhetoric of the radical left, has become a model for rent relief dysfunction.

“On September 21, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul sent a letter to Secretary Yellen that stated “…the State has obligated and/or paid over $1.6 billion of ERAP assistance. This includes payment of over $517.5 million on behalf of over 40,000 households.” But obligated funds and paid out funds are two different things. Only funds that are actually reaching the tenants and property owners provide the relief needed and intended. New York State likely has not met Treasury’s standard for high-performing grantees because less than half of the state’s allocation has been paid out to either tenants or property owners, which, despite Governor Hochul’s emphasis on bureaucratic process, is the measure of programmatic success,” the lawmakers wrote in part. 

The full letter can be found here.