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Deadline Looms for Rental Assistance Applications

Staff report

Nov. 12 is the last day to apply for help from the joint Monroe County/City of Rochester Emergency Rental Assistance Program (EPPI 2.0).

The program began in March and so far has provided more than $25 million to more than 5,300 individuals and families facing eviction due to financial pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another 1,000 households totaling $4.4 million in arrears have been approved and are awaiting payment.

An additional 3,200 applications are still pending approval, and once those are processed, the program’s remaining federal funding will be exhausted.

“Ensuring that county residents who faced serious economic losses due to the pandemic could stay in their homes has helped keep our communities safer and stronger,” County Executive Adam Bello said in a news release. “The EPPI 2.0 program has been a lifeline, not just for tenants, but for the many mom and pop landlords who sustained financial losses through no fault of their own.”

City residents can call 211 to get information.

Once the deadline passes, city and county residents facing eviction may still call 211 to speak with telecounselors about alternate sources of rental help. New York State’s moratorium on COVID-related evictions expires January 15, 2022. Tenants who are behind on their rent but have the ability to pay or make payment arrangements with their landlords are encouraged to do so.

Tenants and landlords can also go to nysrenthelp.otda.ny.gov to learn more about Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) aid available from New York state.

As for EPPI 2.0, the county in September 2020 started a pilot program with $6 million of the county’s federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to prevent evictions caused by COVID.

Later that year, the federal government provided $16 million to Monroe County and $6 million to the city to help working families at risk of eviction stay in their homes. The American Rescue Plan passed in March gave an additional $12.5 million to the county and $4.8 million to the City in order to keep offering rental assistance for months to come.

Using the framework developed under Bello’s initial program, the city and county pooled their resources in early 2021 to create EPPI 2.0. The county and city then partnered with the 211/Lifeline call center and 17 local non-profit agencies to help screen potential applicants, complete applications and provide direct relief payments to property owners on behalf of their qualified residential tenants.

By the numbers:

  • More than 12,000 distinct households have applied for assistance, representing households in every ZIP code within Monroe County.
  • About 3,300 applications were disqualified for not meeting program criteria, or because processors could not reach the original applicant for follow-up.
  • About 75% of all approved applications came from households with gross monthly incomes of less than 50% of the area median income, or about $3,055 for a family of four.
  • ZIP Codes with the highest number of applications include 14621, 14609, 14611, 14613, 14608 and 14606.