Mid-December 2021 News and Update

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

As we bring 2021 to a close, we’re hoping everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and will also have a safe, secure and joyous holiday season (Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, New Year’s, etc.)
It’s been a challenging and rewarding year for MVUT. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage our community, impacting all of us in so many hurtful ways. lt’s at times like these that we really need COMMUNITY! MVUT works day-in, day out, to provide that – keeping people in their homes, improving services for tenants and fighting landlord harassment throughout Mount Vernon and all over Westchester County!

A major part of our work all year long has been fighting the pandemic through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). MVUT has successfully submitted hundreds of applications directly for tenants who had either lost income or had additional expenses as a result of Covid 19. In numerous other cases we assisted others in uploading documents or referring tenants to make their own applications directly. We helped countless tenants in filing “Hardship” applications to the court to prevent their court cases from proceeding until after the moratorium ends on Januarv 15.2022. All of these efforts have allowed tenants to maintain some level of normalcy during these terrible times.

We’re enclosing a copy of a November 21, 202 1 Sunday Journal News article “Despite Backlog, N.Y. Ends $2.4 Billion Relief Program” which highlights some of the great work MVUT is doing. The heading is somewhat misleading. We’re still processing ERAP applications as additional New York State funding has been made available and we’re hopeful significant new federal dollars will be as well. Please contact the office if you, or someone you know may need ERAP assistance.

Have you made your tax-free contribution to MVUT?  If not, please do so now. Remember, contributions to MVUT are tax-deductible. We’re enclosing a self addressed return envelope for your convenience.

Thanks and have a great holiday season!!!

We’ll see you in the New Year ! ! !

Download 12-20-21 Journal News Article (PDF)

Download MVUT Dec 2021 News and Update (PDF)

Early November 2021 – News and Update

MVUT Annual Meeting

At our Annual Meeting held on Tuesday October 12, we re-elected two (2) sitting board members to three (3) year terms: Deborah Carter of 300 Gramatan Avenue, and David Locklear of 60 East First Street. A third open seat was not filled and an additional seat became open as a result of Vivian Spady (of New Rochelle) having been hired as a staff person to work on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). We thus have two (2) vacancies on our board. We’d like to have at least one (1) if not both of those vacancies filled by tenants from the southside as our major state funding source, the Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP) requires that a third of our board be residents of the southside, our “Neighborhood” according to the NPP.

As always, we reviewed the many accomplishments of the past year and previewed the upcoming challenges of the New Year. Key on both points is the pandemic and our ERAP efforts.

Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

MVUT cosponsored two (2) workshops on various housing issues with a primary focus on IERAP: Thursday October 7th at St. Mary’s Church on South High Street in Spanish, and Thursday October 21″1 at Greater Centennial Church on South 8th Avenue in English. The City of Mt. Vernon co-sponsored both events along with Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV) , Hudson Valley Justice Center (HVJC), Catholic Charities and the Human Rights Commission of Westchester. The workshops were primarily attended via ZOOM and included tremendous amounts of important and vital tenants’ rights information. We mentioned above that Vivian Spady has come onto the MVUT staff to work on processing ERAP applications. As of October 22 MVUT had already completed three hundred twenty-seven (327) ERAP applications, uploaded documents for an additional two hundred twenty-five (225) clients, and referred a further six hundred sixty-five (665) tenants to the ERAP e-mail and/or Hotline!

We are enclosing a two (2) sided flyer on ERAP with instructions on how to apply and specific contact info on MVUT, LSHV and Catholic Charities. Please share it with your neighbors.

$$ For MVUT

As always we ask that you support MVUT financially to enable us to build on our successes. Especially at this time, around the end of the calendar year, many people are looking to make tax-deductible donations. Maybe you can make such a contribution? Or maybe you know someone who can ? A parent? An aunt or uncle? A friend? A friend of a friend? Any “person of means” could be looking to make a year-end contribution. MVUT is a 501(c)(3) organization and donations from any person are fully tax-deductible under the Internal Revenue Service (lRS) Code! Please put an)’one who may be in a position to make such a contribution in touch with us. We could really use it!!!

We’re enclosing an October 27,2021, Journal News Article on the City of Newburgh, New York, passing a “good cause” eviction law. MVUT is working in coalition with various other organizations on this issue, both locally and statewide, and similarly for a “Right To Counsel” ordinance both county-wide and state-wide. More in an upcoming mailing.

SUPPORT TENANTS’ RIGHTS !
SUPPORT AFFORDABLE HOUSING ! !
SUPPORT MVUT !!!

Download MVUT ERAP Application

Newburgh Passes Good Cause Eviction Law

MORE THAN $16M IN EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE FUNDING ISSUED IN WESTCHESTER

Cross-posted from WestchesterGov.com

MORE THAN $16M IN EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE FUNDING ISSUED IN WESTCHESTER

Vital financial aid to cover back rent and utilities

for eligible Westchester County residents and landlords

New York State also launches separate $125M program to assist landlords

 

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY (Oct. 14, 2021) – Emergency financial relief is flowing to county residents who applied for the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which covers rent and utility arrears to Westchester households at risk of eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than $16 million has been issued directly to landlords and utility companies on behalf of 1,140 tenant households in Westchester County.

New York State also has launched a separate $125 million program for landlords who were unable to apply for ERAP due to a federal requirement that allowed only tenants to apply. The new Landlord Rental Assistance Program (LRAP) is providing up to 12 months of past-due rent to eligible landlords whose tenants either applied for ERAP and were denied, declined to complete an ERAP application or vacated the residence with arrears. The program is being administered by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. For information, visit otda.ny.gov/lrap.

One county resident who has gotten assistance is Rohey Mbenga, of Elmsford, who applied for ERAP assistance in June and was recently notified that more than $33,000 will be issued to her landlord. The assistance was welcome news to the single mother of three, who lost her job at Lord & Taylor in Eastchester when the retailer shut its doors earlier this year. “I was so worried. I couldn’t sleep,” said Mbenga, noting the struggles of finding employment during the pandemic. “I didn’t know what to do. You don’t want to end up in the street, especially if you have kids.”

When Mbenga learned about the program she contacted Mount Vernon United Tenants, one of 13 local nonprofits partnering with Westchester County to assist individuals seeking to apply for ERAP. “The staff was very helpful. They assisted with the application and helped me file online,” Mbenga said, adding she recently landed a new job, at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry.

“We’re so encouraged to see our local residents getting the critical financial assistance they need to cover their rents and utilities so families can stay together in their homes,” said Dennis Hanratty, Executive Director of Mount Vernon United Tenants, a community-based organization that advocates for tenant rights.

“Our staff has been counseling residents and assisting them with applications, so we’re seeing first-hand the value of this program to tenants and to landlords. Knowing there is help for families impacted by the pandemic will be of great reassurance to Westchester renters,” Hanratty added.

The ERAP program has received more than 4,100 applications from Westchester County residents. Applications from eligible residents are still being processed, on a first-come, first-served basis, and residents are urged to apply quickly while funding is still available. In addition, New York State has expanded the household-income eligibility for rental assistance from 80 percent to 120 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), which, for a household of four in the county, is $153,000. The funding comes as New York State’s eviction moratorium has been extended to Jan. 15, 2022.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “The response we are seeing clearly shows the need for this federal funding for our most vulnerable residents who have suffered financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage all eligible households at risk of housing instability to reach out to our nonprofit partners and get the help you need.”

HELP IS AVAILABLE FOR ASSISTANCE WITH APPLICATIONS

Applicants can call United Way of Westchester and Putnam’s 2-1-1 hotline with questions and to find a nonprofit partner in their community. Rental counseling is available, in English and Spanish, with guidance for gathering documents and access to computers to complete the application online. If you’ve applied and want a status update on your application, call the New York State Office for Temporary and Disability Assistance help line at 844-NY1RENT (844-691-7368).

Click here to Apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

ERAP is providing financial assistance for up to 12 months of past-due rent, 3 months of future rent and 12 months of utility arrears payments to eligible tenants, regardless of immigration status. Payments are being made directly to the eligible tenant’s landlord or property owner, and utility company. Westchester is assisting applicants throughout the county, except in Yonkers, where tenants and landlords are working directly with the municipality and its nonprofit partners.

Commissioner of the Department of Planning Norma Drummond said: “We are so pleased to see this funding getting to our tenants and landlords who have been struggling to manage through these difficult times. If you are at risk of housing instability and think you are eligible for this funding, we encourage you to apply right away.”

New York State residents are eligible for ERAP if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Household gross income is at or below 120 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). These income limits differ by county and household size. A household may qualify based on current income or calendar year 2020 income that is at or below 120 percent AMI.
  • On or after March 13, 2020, a member of the household received unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in income, incurred significant costs or experienced financial hardship, directly or indirectly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The applicant is obligated to pay rent at their primary residence and has rental arrears (rent overdue) at their current residence for rent owed on or after March 13, 2020.
  • The household must be at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which can be demonstrated by having rental arrears owed on or after March 13, 2020.

The New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program is being funded by $2.6 billion in federal aid. For information and to find a nonprofit partner to help you apply, visit Westchester County’s Housing Help page. Yonkers residents may visit yonkersny.gov to learn about their unique application process.

The Westchester County Department of Planning conducts a comprehensive work program and shapes and influences growth and development in Westchester County in order to improve quality of life and protect the environment, resulting in more livable and sustainable communities. For information, visit https://planning.westchestergov.com/.

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Media Contact:

Caryn McBride

Co-Communications

cmcbride [at] cocommunications.com

Download News Release (PDF)