BUFFALO, N.Y. — If you're having trouble paying your rent or utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is help available if you qualify.
The Erie County Department of Social Services has announced the opening of a portal for the NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
The program provides income-qualified renters,who experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic, up to 12 months back rent and up to three months future rent. Utility assistance may also be available in certain cases.
A call center dedicated to ERAP is open seven days a week from 8 AM until 7 PM at 1-844-NY1-RENT or 1-844-691-7368.
“Erie County wants to raise awareness of the Emergency Rental Assistance program and ensure safe stable housing for Erie County residents impacted by the COVID19 pandemic,” said Erie County Commissioner of Social Services Marie A. Cannon.
During the first 30 days of the program, households at or below 50% of the Area Median Income, households with veterans, those currently unemployed, pending eviction cases, mobile home residents and people living in areas disproportionately affected by COVID-19 will be given priority. Payments will be made directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant and tenants will be notified the payment has been made.
Low-income applicants are urged to apply as soon as possible during June in order to receive priority evaluation.
New York State has $35 million in federal funding allocated to Erie County. The county's Social Services Department will be working with community-based organizations to get the word out about the program and to offer application assistance.