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Jul 28, 2020 | Nicolás Ríos

How to apply for the COVID Rental Relief Program

We explain what documents you need and if you qualify for this help that will allow you to pay part of the rent since the pandemic began.

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The Rent Relief Program has been extended. Please read here our explainer

This is a summary of what you need to know:

There has been a change in the rules of the program, so that more people can qualify. Please read here all the details.

  1. If you already applied, you don’t need to apply again as they will review again past applications.
  2. If you were rejected, you don’t need to apply again, as they will review again past applications.
  3. If you didn’t apply, you now have until Feb. 1st to do so. We encourage you to read this article, read our explainer on the last modifications to this program, go straight to the application site or call-833-499-0318.
  4. If you live in a house with no resident with legal documents to live in the US, you can’t apply.

Documented’s Rent Relief Program Guide

What is COVID Rental Relief?

A New York state law to help tenants that have experienced an increase in their rent burden due to a loss of income during the pandemic.

What does the aid include?

It is important to note that this program does not seek to pay all or much of the rent. Rather, it seeks to pay the difference between the percentage your income took up in your budget before the pandemic, and the percentage that reduced income has taken up during the crisis. Sounds complicated, we know that. But let’s try to understand it with the following case:

➡️Example: Suppose before the pandemic, your total household income was $2,000 and your income is $700. This means that the percent of income earmarked for rent was 35%.

If with a reduction work hours due to the pandemic, the household income was reduced to $1,400, and the rent remains the same, then the percentage of income earmarked for rent is now 50%.

This means that if you are chosen for the benefit, you will receive a subsidy that covers that 15% (50% – 35%) increase in the burden of the rent to the total monthly budget. In this case, it would be $210 dollars.

The idea is that the subsidy will return you to the burden you had before the pandemic.

Where can I apply?

It can be done online on this site.

You can also download, fill out, and mail this document too: COVID Rent Relief Program, 500 Bi-County Blvd., Suite # 300 Farmingdale, NY 11735.

What is the deadline to apply?

Applications must be filed no later than August 6, 2020 at 6pm.

Is the benefit delivered on a first-come, first-served basis?

No. At the end of the term, the cases will be analyzed and the benefit will begin to be distributed.

How do I know if I qualify?

The quickest way is through this Benefit Calculator, which tells you if you qualify and what documents you will need.

To qualify, you must prove that you meet all the following parameters:

a) Have primary residence in the State of New York.

b) Before March 1, 2020, your household income must be less than that established in this table.

➡️Example: Let’s take the first county that appears in the table. If you live in a 4 person house in Albany, and the household has an income of less than $77,600, then you do qualify.

➡️Example 2: If you live in Queens, then you must search by county ‘New York. If you live in a 4-person household, and the household has an income less than $90,950, then you do qualify.

c) Before March 1, 2020, and during the pandemic, the household must have allocated more than 30% of its income as rent. Income is the result of salary, social security aid, unemployment insurance, etc.

➡️Example: You have a rent of $700. If the total household income before the pandemic was $2,000, then 30% is $600. Since your rent represents more than 30% of your household income, then you do qualify.

d) Prove that in the home there was a drop in income between April 1 and July 31.

➡️Example: If you had an hourly wage then you have to prove that your hours were reduced from April 1, or if you lost your job, then you do qualify.

How do I prove this?

With documents like the rental agreement, copies of salary deposits, letters from the employer, tax returns for each member of the household.

The system will also ask for some type of identification, for whom it applies.

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And it will ask you to declare income for each member of the household:

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The system also asks for either Social Security Number (SSN) or Tax Number (ITIN)

How is the benefit delivered?

It is paid directly to the landlord.

If I have a month-to-month contract, can I receive the benefit?

Yes. Those who apply and meet the requirements only need to demonstrate that they have a rental obligation. If you do not have a contact or a form of accreditation, you must fill out the document called Tenant Rent Attestation, available in the online application.

Does receiving the stimulus check effect my ability to apply for this benefit?


If I am undocumented, do I qualify for help?

It depends. Under federal law, a household is eligible to receive public benefits if one or more people living in it are citizens or qualifying immigrants according to this document. Please review it and see if you qualify.

➡️Example: If one of your children is a citizen in a household of undocumented parents, then the entire household qualifies. Of course, those who apply must be of legal age and they must have some type of identification: SSN, State ID, ITIN

Clarification: Whoever applies must be over 18 years of age. They can be undocumented as long as they have a child with legal status. The minor does not have to apply, it is the adult who applies.

If the benefit is paid to the landlord, does the landlord have to agree to be part of the program?

It is not optional for the landlord, as they are required by state law to accept this money as a valid payment. Now, remember, this money will never be the equivalent of your total rent.

How do I know if the payment arrives? Could the landlord eventually say it didn’t come?

When payment is made, both landlord and tenant will receive a notification. This notification works as legal proof of payment. That is your evidence that the payment was made.

If I live with roommates, how is this done?

Yes, you can apply with roommates. But each roommate must apply for the portion of the rent they pay.

Is there a way to ask for help with the application?

Phone: 1-833-499-0318 (Monday to Saturday, 8am to 7pm)

Email: covidrentrelief@hcr.ny.gov

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