Emergency Rental Assistance

Update 5/17/21 - Informational flyers and document checklists for renters and landlords now available for download under the For Renters and For Landlords tabs. Call the Community Action Program (CAP) for assistance at 315- 255-1703, extension 164. 

Update 5/12/21 - The NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) has released information about priority applications and documentation needed to apply. Application are not being accepted yet, but once the application process is opened up, the first 30 days of the program, priority will be given to certain populations. 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.

Update 5/7/21 - The U.S. Treasury Department issued new rules to simplify applications, cover more costs such as moving expenses and hotel stays, and help tenants even if their landlords decline to participate in the program. Review the updated Frequently Asked Questions for more details.

Update 5/3/21 - New York lawmakers voted to extend the state's COVID-19 eviction moratorium through the end of August 2021. Tenants who can attest to financial hardship due to the pandemic are protected from evictions for another four months. This will give tenants and landlords impacted by COVID-19 time to apply for a new rental assistance program.

The federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) allows tenants and landlords to apply for rental and utilities arrears payments. New York State, through the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (NYS OTDA), is making $2.4 billion available to help eligible households who are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the pandemic. Mobile home rent and utility payments are eligible for assistance.

Are you eligible?

New York residents are eligible for ERAP if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Household gross income is at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). These income limits differ by county and household size. A household may qualify based on current income or calendar year 2020 income that is at or below 80 percent AMI.
  • On or after March 13, 2020, a member of the household received unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in income, incurred significant costs or experienced financial hardship, directly or indirectly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The applicant is obligated to pay rent at their primary residence and has rental arrears (rent overdue) at their current residence for rent owed on or after March 13, 2020.
  • The household must be at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which can be demonstrated by having rental arrears owed on or after March 13, 2020.

Households eligible for rental arrears may also be eligible for help paying utility arrears at the same rental unit.

Households approved for ERAP may receive:

  • Up to 12 months of rental arrears payments for rents accrued on or after March 13, 2020.
  • Up to 3 months of additional rental assistance if the household is expected to spend 30 percent or more of their gross monthly income to pay for rent.
  • Up to 12 months of electric or gas utility arrears payments for arrears that have accrued on or after March 13, 2020.

Payments will be made directly to the landlord/property owner and utility company on behalf of the tenant. Tenant applicants will be notified of the amounts paid on their behalf. If a landlord is difficult to locate or does not otherwise provide information needed to complete the application, funds will be held for up to 180 days to allow sufficient time to locate the landlord and collect required information as well as to provide tenant protections and maximize landlord participation.

Priority applications

For the first 30 days of the program, priority will be given to households in the following order:

  1. Households with income at or below 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) that also include a household member who:
    • Is currently unemployed for at least 90 days; or
    • Is a veteran; or
    • Is currently experiencing domestic violence or is a survivor of human trafficking; or
    • Has an eviction case related to their current residence pending in court; or
    • Resides in a mobile home; or
    • Lives in a community that was disproportionately impacted by COVID-19; or
    • Lives in a dwelling of 20 or fewer units.
  2. Households with income at or below 50 percent AMI.
  3. Households with income at or below 80 percent AMI that also include a household member who:
    • Is currently unemployed for at least 90 days; or
    • Is a veteran; or
    • Is currently experiencing domestic violence or is a survivor of human trafficking; or
    • Has an eviction case related to their current residence pending in court; or
    • Resides in a mobile home; or
    • Lives in a community that was disproportionately impacted by COVID-19; or
    • Lives in a dwelling of 20 or fewer units.
  4. Households with income at or below 80 percent AMI.

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.

How and when can you apply

Coming soon! NYS OTDA is expected to open an online portal at the end of May that enables tenants and landlords to apply for rental arrears payment assistance. If eligible, these payments will be made to participating landlords directly. Details on the process and required documentation are expected soon, which will be posted on this page when they become available. 

Funds for this program are limited and made available regionally. No specific amount has been allocated to Cayuga County. Once the application process opens up, funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until the regional allocation is exhausted. Cayuga County is launching an intensive outreach and marketing campaign over the next few weeks to alert tenants and landlords about this opportunity. The Department of Social Services along with community agencies are preparing to assist clients with eligibility questions, securing documentation, and completing the online application. Landlords with qualifying tenants are encouraged to discuss this program with them and help them apply when the time comes.

“We want to make sure our tenants and landlords are informed and ready to apply when the state portal opens,” says Ray Bizzari, Director of Community Services, “In partnership with community agencies we’ll do everything we can to assist eligible households access the much-needed funds to pay local landlords.”

What you can do in the meantime

  • Sign up to receive automatic Alerts about updates. Scroll down to the Alert Center, click on Coronavirus COVID-19 Updates, and select how you would like to receive the alert (text or email).
  • Review Frequently Asked Questions (updated 5/7/21) from the U.S. Department of Treasury regarding eligibility and other requirements. When NY-specific guidance becomes available, it will be posted on this page.
  • Start compiling documentation, such as copies of your lease agreement, proof of income, and the rent and utilities you owe. Review Renter's Checklist and/or Landlord's Checklist.