Governor Hochul Announces $25 Million To Provide Free Legal Assistance for Struggling Tenants

Federal Funding to Provide Legal Assistance to Low-Income Renters Facing Eviction in Areas Where Free Legal Services are Limited    

Expands Access to Publicly Funded, Free Legal Services for Tenants in 57 Counties Outside NYC   

New Applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program Will Be Suspended Sunday Night in Most Areas of the State  

Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday Nov. 12th announced that $25 million in federal funding will be used to provide free legal assistance to low-income renters facing eviction in areas of the state outside of New York City where access to free legal aid is not available to meet the need of these renters. The legal assistance is aimed at helping both tenants and landlords resolve rent-related disputes and maintaining tenants’ housing stability. The awardees of this funding will be announced on Monday.

Gov. Kathy Hochul

“The pandemic has shown us that every New Yorker deserves the stability of a home,” Governor Hochul said. “This critical funding will help struggling tenants access free legal assistance they can rely on to reach a resolution with their landlord and avoid the potential for eviction proceedings. We will continue to push for additional federal funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to provide relief to renters.”

Earlier, Governor Hochul announced that New York State has officially requested $996 million in additional federal funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The request for these funds would cover projected need over the next four months, based on already-submitted applications, as well as a portion of projected need for tenants living in publicly subsidized housing.

New York State recently surpassed $1 billion in direct payments to landlords and has now fully obligated its $2.4 billion in funding – less than six months after first taking applications. Applications will continue to be accepted through Sunday, Nov. 14, until 10 p.m. The program will suspend accepting new applications at that time, except in the following areas, where allocations have not yet been exhausted, and where tenants are encouraged to apply: Dutchess County, Nassau County (not including the towns of Hempstead or Oyster Bay), Niagara County, Oneida County, Saratoga County, Suffolk County (not including the towns of Brookhaven or Islip), Westchester County (not including the city of Yonkers).

As part of the law, $25 million in federal funding was set aside to provide legal services to tenants facing eviction proceedings and to help them maintain housing stability in areas of the state where access to free legal assistance for such services is not readily available. Residents of New York City already have access to free legal representation in housing court to help avoid eviction.  

Barbara C. Guinn, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which is administering the legal assistance grants, said, “Expanding the availability of legal assistance for tenants is essential to helping New York avoid a housing crisis as residents throughout the State continue to struggle to pay rental arrears that accumulated during the pandemic. This assistance will help individuals and families to work with their landlords to help them maintain stable housing. I applaud Governor Hochul for taking action to help renters and landlords resolve disputes and avoid evictions.”

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, “Both landlords and tenants will be benefit from these additional federal resources being deployed by Governor Hochul for areas outside of New York City. Free legal assistance to eligible renters who are at risk of eviction will help head off potential crises. When the end of the eviction moratorium comes, we will need every tool available to bolster the work of our community partners in assisting property owners and tenants.”

New York State is among the leaders in payments made or obligated, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which tracks the state-by-state implementation of ERAP.