Apply now for emergency rental assistance

OSWEGO — The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance is now accepting applications for its Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The program provides temporary rental assistance to low- and moderate-income households at risk of homelessness or housing instability. Eligible households may also qualify for aid with past due rental and utility debts.

Eligible residents can apply through the State’s OTDA online portal 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Go to www.otda.ny.gov/erap.

Applicants must meet all of the following conditions to qualify:

— Gross income for the household must be at or below 80% of the median income for the area. A household may qualify based on current income or income from 2020.

— Household member must have received unemployment benefits or experienced financial hardship, loss of income or acquired significant debts on or after March 13, 2020 due to (either directly or indirectly) the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Applicant is required to pay rent at their primary residence and owes past due amounts at their current residence from on or after March 13, 2020.

— Household must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability. This can be demonstrated by having past due rental debts from on or after March 13, 2020.

Income limits differ by county and household size. The State OTDA has created charts to help applicants find the limits for their area and households.

Go to https://otda.ny.gov/programs/emergency-rental-assistance/ERAP-50-area-median-income.pdf and look for ‘Oswego County’ to find the income/household size limits for Very Low-Income Families at 50% of the median income for the area.

Go to https://otda.ny.gov/programs/emergency-rental-assistance/ERAP-80-area-median-income.pdf and look for ‘Oswego County’ to find the limits for low-income families at 80% of the median income for the area.

Applications will be prioritized for the first 30 days of the program.

First priority is given to households with an income at or below 50% of the median income for the area and also includes a member who is currently unemployed for at least 90 days, or is a veteran, or is currently experiencing domestic violence, or is a human trafficking survivor, or has an eviction case related to their current residence pending in court, or lives in a community that was disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, or resides in a mobile home or dwelling with fewer than 20 units.

Go to https://otda.ny.gov/programs/emergency-rental-assistance/zipcode-lookup.asp and search your zip code to find out if a community was disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Second priority will be given to households with income at or below 50% of the median income for the area.

Third priority will be given to households with income at or below 80% of the median income for the area AND also includes a member who is currently unemployed for at least 90 days, or is a veteran, or is currently experiencing domestic violence, or is a human trafficking survivor, or has an eviction case related to their current residence pending in court, or lives in a community that was disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, or resides in a mobile home or dwelling with fewer than 20 units.

Fourth priority will be given to households with income at or below 80% of the median income for the area.

Beginning on July 1, applications will then be accepted from eligible households on a first-come, first-served basis until funding runs out.

Applicants will need to provide personal identification for all household members. This includes a photo ID, driver license or non-driver government-issued ID, passport, EBT/Benefits Issuance Card, birth or baptismal certificate or school registration. They must also provide social security numbers for all household members who have been issued one.

Proof of rental amount from a signed lease (even if it is expired) or rent receipt, canceled check or money order is also required, along with current proof of residency and occupancy from a utility bill, school records, bank statement, insurance policy or driver’s license.

Finally, applicants must also provide proof of income to determine eligibility. Pay stubs, bank account deposit verification and an unemployment benefits letter are all acceptable documents to demonstrate monthly income. Proof of income for 2020 can include a W-2 tax form from an employer, a copy of completed income tax return or an annual statement of earnings.

Those applying for help with past due utility debts must also submit a copy of their gas or electric bill.

Applicants will be asked to attest that a member of the household received unemployment benefits, experienced financial hardship, a loss of income or acquired significant on or after March 13, 2020 due to (either directly or indirectly) the COVID-19 pandemic. The applicant will need to sign the application form and associated certifications agreeing that the information provided in the application is accurate.

After an application is accepted and processed, payments are made directly to the landlord or property owner or utility company on behalf of the tenant. Applicants will be notified of the amount paid on their behalf.

The Oswego County Department of Social Services is partnering with Oswego County Opportunities, Inc. to help residents with their applications. For details, contact DSS at 315-963-5021 or temporaryassistance@oswegocounty.com or OCO at 315-342-7618.

For more information, go to https://otda.ny.gov/programs/emergency-rental-assistance/-overview or contact the State’s OTDA between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week at 844-691-7368. For the hearing impaired, TTY 1-833-843-8829.

Applications are accepted through the State’s OTDA online portal 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Go to www.otda.ny.gov/erap.

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