More than 240 Putnam Renters File for Help

Emergency assistance began June 1

Putnam renters who lost income to the economic side effects of the pandemic shutdown responded quickly after the June 1 launch of an effort to help cover their bills, county legislators were told last week.

The county had received 244 applications for the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program as of June 30, according to Michael Piazza, the commissioner of the Putnam Department of Social Services.

The program will pay up to 12 months of overdue rent dating to March 13, 2020; cover three months of rent going forward for those who expect to spend 30 percent or more of their gross monthly income on rent; and help pay overdue utility bills.

It is designed for renters who had reduced income, significant costs or other financial hardships, directly or indirectly related to COVID-19.

On June 23, Piazzi told the Legislature’s Health Committee that 101 residents had applied for aid for back rent, 94 needed assistance for anticipated rent; and 24 wanted help with utility bills. Most were from eastern Putnam, he said.

By the end of the month, 125 residents had applied for rent aid, 119 for anticipated rent and 31 for utility bills, Piazza told The Current on June 30.

Private social services agencies are assisting residents with the paperwork, Piazza told legislators. “The state says it will remain open as long as they have money” and, so far, he said, “there seems to be no end to the money.”

Piazza said state and federal outreach also includes aid for people without long-term housing. “If you don’t have secure housing,” he said, “a lot of your wellness and health is not taken care of.”

According to the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which oversees New York’s program, applicants for rent assistance must provide official identification, such as a driver’s license; a Social Security number; a signed lease or receipt; and proof of income. Citizenship status does not affect eligibility. For information, see otda.ny.gov or call 844-691-7368.

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