As of mid-November, the more than $2 billion New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program has helped about 166,000 households pay overdue rent; the governor has requested nearly $1 billion more, which could aid 72,000 additional applicants, said Barika Williams, the executive director of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, a nonprofit housing coalition.
But there are at least 120,506 applications that haven’t been approved and, as of mid-October, more than 590,000 households statewide had missed rent payments and had low confidence in their ability to stay current, she said.
The risk falls disproportionately on Black and Latino renters in parts of the Bronx, Staten Island and Queens, home to a large share of essential workers who remain vulnerable during the pandemic. A March study found that landlords sought evictions four times more often in neighborhoods with the highest Covid-19 death rates.
Yoselyn Gomez, a longtime renter in the Concourse section of the Bronx, has been unable to pay the $1,616 rent on her two-bedroom apartment since the start of the pandemic; she lost her job in customer service shortly before the pandemic, and caught the virus in April of 2020. After applying for emergency aid in June, she recently received notice that part of her back rent will be covered, but even with her new job — a temporary retail position at a department store — she said she won’t be able to stay current.
“This still isn’t over,” Ms. Gomez said in Spanish, through a translator with CASA, a tenant advocacy group of which she is a member.
Pablo Estupiñan, the group’s director, is lobbying the state to double the next tranche of rental assistance to $2 billion, and to extend the pause on evictions. The community district where many of his members reside, including High Bridge and Concourse in the Bronx, is among the city’s poorest, with a median household income of about $32,000.
Unlike the so-called exodus of mostly affluent renters at the start of the pandemic, the next wave of departures could be permanent.
“Folks moved here because they had no choice,” in terms of affordable housing, Mr. Estupiñan said. “If they can’t afford to live here, they will no longer be able to stay in New York.”
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