You Might Qualify for New York’s Rental Assistance

As reported yesterday on, New York State is offering a new program to help renters who were financially affected by the pandemic. Read on to see if you can qualify for the program.


A new program to help New York renters who were financially affected by Covid-19 started today (July 16th 2020), called COVID Rent Relief ProgramIt covers a portion of four months of rent for income-eligible people who pay more than 30% of their income as rent.

Every month each household pays a percentage of their income as rent. For example, if your monthly household income back in February was $4,000 and your rent was $2,000, then your rent was 50% of your income. If your household income dropped between April 1 –  July 31, say from $4,000 to $3,0000, and your rent stayed the same at $2,000 a month, then your rent is now 66.6% of your household income, instead of 50%. In this example, this program will pay $500 a month towards rent for 4 months, leaving you to pay $1,500 a month, which is exactly 50% of your current income.

This could be very helpful. Some will be eligible but many won’t. 

Fill out the ‘Eligibility Calculator‘ to see if you are eligible.

If you want to understand the eligibility criteria, read on.
To easily calculate percentages, use

What makes you ‘income-eligible’?

This program considers all income, including unemployment, and the extra $600 a week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). It does not include SNAP benefits.

We will use the term ‘income eligible’. To be considered ‘income eligible’, your household income must be below 80% of the area’s median income. Check this chart to see the ‘income-eligible’ amount for each area in NY State depending on your household size. For example, in NYC, if you’re a household of 4 people, the maximum household income to be considered ‘income-eligible’ is $90,950. (1 person = $63,700, 2 people = $72,800, 3 people = $81,900, 4 people = $90,950, 5 people = $98,250,  6 people = $105,550, 7 people = $112,800, and 8 or more people = $120,100).

Are you eligible?

At least one member of the household needs to be a U.S. citizen. Then, to be eligible, 5 separate conditions must apply. They ALL need to apply. 

Here are the 5 conditions:

  1. You were ‘income-eligible’ before March 1, 2020.
    As far as I understand, you take your February household income and multiply it by 12 to reach your annual household income.
  2. You are currently ‘income-eligible’
    Currently being on the date that you apply for the rent relief. Take your current household income (including unemployment and the extra $600) and multiply it by 12.
  3. Your rent before March 1 2020 was more than 30% of your monthly income.
    For example, if your rent was $2,500 a month in February, then if your monthly household income is less than $8,334, you would be eligible.
  4. Your current rent is also more than 30% of your income.
    Same as number 3. Current being the day you apply for rent relief.
  5. You lost income between March 1st and todayToday being the day you apply for the rent relief. In other words, your household income is less than it was in February. 

To make it clear: If your income now, including all unemployment benefits, is more than your household income was in February, you are not eligible, even if you were ‘rent-burdened’ before and you’re ‘rent-burdened’ now.  Question is what happens if the $600 stops as currently planned, on July 26, would the extra $600 still count if you apply after receiving the final $600 payment?

What is ‘rent burden’? Rent burden means that your monthly rent is anything more than 30% of your salary.

What will you get?

Say you’re eligible. You were paying more than 30% of your income in rent in February as well as now. You were income-eligible in February and you are income-eligible now too. And your income including unemployment is lower now than what it was back in February. So your ‘rent burden’ has increased and you are eligible.

How to apply

Click here for the application form. The form should tell you pretty quickly if you’re eligible or not. So even if you don’t think you’re eligible, you can try it out anyway.

After you apply

If you’re determined eligible, you’ll have to send in proof. Proof of prior income, current income and rent amount (lease or letter from landlord is fine). Then, if you’re actually eligible, the payment will be sent directly to your landlord. It will not come to you. It will come at the end of the summer. It can go towards future rent payments, so continue paying rent in the meantime!


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