New York – Today, the statewide Housing Justice for All (HJ4A) coalition condemned major flaws in Cuomo’s Emergency Rent Relief Assistance Program (ERAP) that have left struggling tenants without relief.
“Governor Cuomo’s implementation of the Emergency Rent Relief Assistance Program (ERAP) has been an utter failure, undermining goals of easy access and leaving thousands of tenants locked out of applying for much-needed rent relief. This failure on the part of Governor Cuomo jeopardizes New York State’s ability to spend $2.7 billion in federal rent relief — a process that must be complete by September 2021. Despite taking nearly two months to design a rent relief application portal, the program launched with numerous glitches. In the first week of the program, we have already identified numerous problems with Governor Cuomo’s implementation that make it harder for tenants to apply for and obtain aid,” said Cea Weaver, coordinator of Housing Justice for All (HJ4A)
Specifically, housing advocates and impacted tenants involved in Housing Justice for All (HJ4A) have identified the following problems related to lack of accessibility, barriers to eligibility, and poor user experience for tenants who try to navigate the Emergency Rent Relief Assistance Program (ERAP) portal:
Lack of Accessibility:
- Reliance on “Google Translate” to translate the website and landing pages; no translation of “Frequently Asked Questions.”
- No paper applications are available
- Email address is required to apply
Barriers to Eligibility:
- The definition of “household” is unclear, particularly for sub-lessees and those who live with roommates
- It is not clear how tenants could utilize “self-attestation” for required documents in the application process
Poor User Experience for Tenants Applying for Rent Relief
- It takes about two hours to fully apply for the program
- There is no “submit” button, so it is unclear to users if they have adequately applied
- The website is poorly designed and crashes frequently
“Once again, Governor Cuomo is mishandling the COVID-19 crisis and obstructing rent relief to low-income and working-class New Yorkers. After more than a year of struggling through the pandemic, New York’s renters deserve better. Governor Cuomo and his agencies must immediately correct these problems with the Emergency Rent Relief Assistance Program (ERAP). In addition, New Yorkers who have permanently lost income and face a long road toward economic recovery need permanent relief. In the last week of the legislative session, the State legislature must pass the Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP) to provide rental support to tenants and homeless New Yorkers, and Good Cause Eviction to prevent unnecessary evictions in a pandemic,” said Weaver, coordinator of Housing Justice for All (HJ4A).