The NYS Legislature concluded this year’s legislative session in early June by passing a number of bills that impact supportive housing providers and tenants.
Housing Chairs’ Assemblymember Steve Cymbrowitz and Senator Brian Kavanagh, introduced a bill to codify an ongoing five-year housing plan for affordable and supportive housing starting in 2022. The bill would commence on April 1, 2022 and require that every fifth fiscal year thereafter, the Governor include as part of the annual executive budget, a statewide comprehensive five-year capital plan to support the development, preservation and capital improvement of affordable housing in NYS. The Legislature passed the bill. It is now awaiting the Governor’s signature .
Senator Kavanagh and Assemblymember Cymbrowitz also sponsored legislation directing the New York State Department of Financial Services, in coordination with NYS Homes and Community Renewal, to conduct a study examining the increasing costs of insurance premiums and the lack of availability of insurance coverage for affordable housing developments. The Legislature passed the bill this session and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature .
In the final days of session, the Legislature and Governor came to an agreement on a revised “Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity act (HONDA) bill.” HONDA, sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Senator Michael Gianaris and Assembly member Karines Reyes, is intended to be the mechanism for the state to finance the acquisition of distressed hotel and commercial office properties into affordable/supportive housing by nonprofits. This bill does not have a financial component but is expected to be funded through HCR’s $100m appropriation that was passed in the final budget in April. Some highlights of the bill include:
• HONDA is a statewide program, with no geographic exclusions; but requires union sign-off if a union hotel is to be converted;
• NYS will finance nonprofits for acquiring and developing the conversions into affordable housing that is at or below 50% AMI ;
• At least 50% of the units shall be set aside for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness;
• Prevailing wage language for building service workers in NYC conversions was included. This language matches the city’s prevailing wage language, exempting anything that’s at least 50% supportive housing or under 120 units. There is no prevailing wage requirement for conversions in municipalities outside NYC;
• Each unit must contain a living/sleeping space, private bathroom with bath or shower, and either a full kitchen or kitchenette with at least a 24 inch refrigerator, sink cooktop, microwave oven and outlets for countertop appliances; and
• There is no sunset clause
The bill is now awaiting the Governor’s signature .
This bill, sponsored by Social Services Chair, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and Senator Brian Kavanagh, passed the legislature in the final days of session. It would permanently raise the Family Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (FHEPS) rent cap to Fair Market Rent (FMR) ensuring more recipients can utilize their vouchers. It is now awaiting the Governor’s signature .
Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
In addition to session wrapping up in June, the NYS Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance (OTDA) also opened the long awaited Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) portal on June 1st.
ERAP will provide assistance to New York State households who are behind on their rent. Eligible low to moderate-income households can get up to 12 months of their back rent paid, 3 months of future rent if applicable, and qualified utility arrears. Both tenants and landlords can apply – payments will be made to the landlord, and tenants will be notified of any payment made on their behalf. During the first 30 days of the program, New York State is prioritizing households that meet certain criteria. After the first 30 days, applications for all eligible households will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as funds remain available. Individuals do not need to have a lawful immigration status to qualify. Interested tenants and owners are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
For more information about how to apply, and to find out if you or your tenants qualify, visit the New York State ERAP webpage. There are also community-based organizations helping in New York City apply across the five boroughs, listed on the NYC HRA/DSS website.
The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) has compiled the following information video training resources for providers on: Navigating the ERAP Homepage; Using the Tenant Application and Uploading Documents; and Understanding the Landlord Portal. Following the review of these materials, questions should be submitted using this NYS ERAP Application Questions Portal.
Seven communities that received funding for emergency rental assistance directly from the federal government opted to administer their own programs. Residents of City of Rochester and Monroe County, the City of Yonkers, Onondaga County and the towns of Hempstead, Islip and Oyster Bay must apply with their local programs for emergency rental assistance and are ineligible for assistance from the state-administered Emergency Rental Assistance Program.