Ryan, Conrad call on state to roll out Emergency Rental Assistance Program

Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Two Buffalo lawmakers are calling on the state to get moving with money that’s meant to help cash-strapped landlords.

A state and federal moratorium on evictions continue to protect housing for renters, but local property owners are suffering.

Both the American Rescue Plan and the New York State budget have earmarked money to help with the ongoing problem. But the state office tasked with rolling out an application process for that financial relief hasn’t done so yet.

Reached Friday afternoon about this, the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA) said the following:

OTDA is working diligently toward the launch of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to get critical help to New Yorkers who need it most and tenants can start the process now by gathering materials based on the information we’re already providing about this important program on our website. We are eager to launch the program soon and anticipate an announcement about when people can apply in the near future.

But until then, Chris and Allison Burton, who rent out properties in north Buffalo and the city’s west side, are starting to struggle.

“We’ve been doing everything on our side to keep the utilities running, the heat, the water, the electric paid, the mortgages covered,” said Chris Burton.

Four of their renters haven’t been able to pay for six to eight months.

Now, the Burtons are tapping into money they make in their day jobs to support those renters’ utilities.

“In addition to the normal wear and tear and maintenance that needs to be kept up, we haven’t shirked on any of those responsibilities at all. We’ve figured out a way to make it work, but it’s been a challenge,” said Allison Burton.

These two are among other local landlords begging their state representatives for help.

“They’re been scraping by on their own savings, personal loans, and trying to keep their investments afloat with no rent money coming in,” Assemblyman Bill Conrad (D-Tonawanda) said.

“They don’t live in penthouses. They’re not billionaires. They’re more of the ‘mom and pop’ variety of landlords,” State Senator Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo) said.

Standing with the couple Friday, Ryan says these moratoriums did their jobs: There were not mass evictions, but he acknowledges that now it’s been too long.

“Three months turned into six months, six months turned into nine months, and now we’re over a year,” Ryan added.

Ryan and Assemblyman Bill Conrad say $2.4 billion of the American Rescue Plan is a program that would pay for up to 12 months past-due rent and an additional three months paid to landlords to make up for lost income. New York State budgeted an additional $100 million.

They want OTDA to open the application process open by June 1.

OTDA encourages people who will apply for this to get ready now by reviewing the materials they’ll need here: otda.ny.gov/erap.

Erica Brecher is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.

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