Barbara, a Mount Vernon resident, has fallen behind on her rent because she has been unemployed since the COVID-19 pandemic. Although she began her new job, the back rent she owes is still hanging over her head.
Like Barbara, thousands of residents were financially impacted by the pandemic, and many tenants are at risk of being evicted. In 2021, United Way’s 211 Helpline has seen a 130% increase in housing insecurity calls compared to 2019.
New York State and local governments have partnered with the United Way of Westchester and Putnam to provide
outreach about funds available through New York State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to aid residents and help them complete the application process.
ERAP allows eligible families to apply for rental assistance worth up to 12 months of unpaid rent and an additional three months of future rent in certain circumstances. The program also covers up to 12 months of unpaid utilities.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people lost their jobs and could not afford basic needs like food and rent. The government instituted a moratorium on evictions in recognition of these circumstances.
Even though these people may be working again, many of them will not make up for the rent they have missed. The purpose of ERAP is to erase the past debt so that families can concentrate on the future.
Putnam County and the City of Mount Vernon designated United Way of Westchester and Putnam to assist
individuals in completing the New York State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program applications. Westchester
County uses United Way’s 211 Helpline to help people connect to other agencies that assist residents in
submitting completed applications.
“In Mount Vernon, nearly 1,500 families are facing eviction as moratoriums are set to expire,” said Mount Vernon
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard. “There are resources available to help these families and those who are
precariously perched on the verge of homelessness. It is imperative that residents who need assistance show up.
I urge Mount Vernon residents to take full advantage of these opportunities, and I am glad to work with partners
like the United Way to ensure that they do.”
“Without stable housing, individuals and families are put at risk, which impacts the larger community. We are
proud to partner with our local county governments and the City of Mount Vernon to ensure that those who were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic stay in their homes so they can thrive,” said Tom Gabriel, president and CEO of United Way of Westchester and Putnam.