New York families are struggling to stay in their homes due to delays by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration in doling out federal rent relief, Sen. Chuck Schumer charged Sunday.
The Senate majority leader appeared alongside some of those families at a press conference to publicly chide Cuomo for failing to disburse the $2.4 billion in rent relief allocated to New York by Congress in April.
“Thousands and thousands of New York tenants could be deprived of critical rent relief checks if the state doesn’t move more quickly on getting this money out,” Schumer said. “I am formally asking [Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance] to move heaven and earth to fix the mess, pick up the pace and get this federal money out the door before it’s too late for tenants and landlords.
“The message today is: tenant relief now. No more delay.”
In a separate letter to OTDA Commissioner Mike Hein, Schumer said the agency’s website for relief-seekers was too difficult for many tenants to utilize, particularly those for whom English is not their first language.
He said the money was intended to be distributed “as quickly as possible” to meet dire needs of tenants — but that no money had been dispersed as of July 21.
Hein’s agency has since given out “some relief funds, but this was a miniscule amount and not nearly the level or pace to address the profound need the program was established to ameliorate,” Schumer wrote.
“It is of critical importance that this assistance reaches families in need who have been struggling, through no fault of their own, before New York’s eviction moratorium expires on August 31,” he said.
“Delaying these funds any longer will result in a massive wave of preventable evictions.”
States such as Connecticut, Illinois and Texas have already distributed tens of millions of dollars of rental assistance.
Cuomo’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.