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Westchester Launches $10M Landlord-Tenant Assistance Program
WHITE PLAINS—Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced on Aug. 9 the county had established a $10-million fund for small landlords to make repairs on their apartments with the proviso that they maintain affordable rent levels at their properties.
The Landlord Tenant Assistance Program will allow small landlords who own eight units or less, who maintain rent levels that are affordable to residents, to apply for up to $25,000 per unit for repairs to their rental properties. To be eligible, landlords/owners must charge rents that are affordable to households earning between no more than 60% and 100% of the Area Median Income.
Bedroom Size, 60% AMI Rent, 80% AMI Rent, 100% AMI Rent
Studio, $1,457, $1,942, $2,427
One Bedroom, $1,665, $2,219, $2,773
Two Bedroom, $1,873, $2,497, $3,119
Three Bedroom, $2,080, $2,773, $3,465
Rent levels, with utilities included, must adhere to the 2022 HUD Guidelines above.
SOURCE: WESTCHESTER COUNTY
Home improvements may include, but are not limited to, roof replacement, or upgrades to electrical, windows, accessibility ramps, plumbing and heating systems. With $10 million in available funding, the county estimates the initiative could result in up to 400 units being rehabilitated.
The $10 million in funding for the program comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act funding the county received.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, and its aftermath, have greatly impacted our small landlords who have not been able to receive rent increases to make improvements to their properties in years,” Westchester County Executive Latimer said. “My administration stands committed to preserving affordable housing in all of our communities, and this funding will help our landlords make upgrades that will ultimately preserve the life of these units. We hope the prospect of receiving up to $25,000 per unit will incentivize our landlords to maintain their rental properties at a price point that everyone can afford.”
Latimer noted that the initiative was fueled by input from the Westchester County Board of Legislators and was bi-partisan.
Commissioner of the Department of Planning Norma Drummond said, “The Planning Department is excited to launch this program that particularly assists small landlords who need to make much needed repairs to their rental units. By offering this program, we know that we will help small landlords and renters alike, who were hit hard by the pandemic. LTAP funds will preserve and enhance smaller multi-family housing stock in the county that will improve the living conditions of many county residents and maintain its affordability.”
She said the county will try to make applying and securing funding from the program as simple as possible. Drummond said the county is not looking to collect data on tenants at these properties.
“We are looking to help the landlords as best we can,” she said.
Jackie Shaw, executive director of the non-profit Interfaith Council for Action (IFCA) Housing Network of Ossining, praised the new program that she said will provide needed assistance to small landlords who were “devastated” by the COVID pandemic.
Chairwoman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators Catherine Borgia said of the new program, “I am grateful for our partnership with County Executive Latimer in negotiating this funding into the 2022 budget. This will have a positive effect for both landlords and tenants.”
Board of Legislators Majority Leader Chris Johnson added, “In Westchester, we are not only committed to keeping people in their homes, we are committed to making sure those homes are safe and healthy places to reside. As renters and landlords are working to get back on their feet from the pandemic, I am happy to partner with the County Executive to provide the funding for programs that not only keep a roof over people’s heads, but to make sure those roofs aren’t leaking as well.”
A Westchester County Rehabilitation Specialist will inspect the property after an application has been submitted to the Department of Planning. If the property qualifies, a three-party contract will be signed between the county, the landlord/owner and the contractor, for work to be completed by contractors that are licensed and insured to work in Westchester County. Funds will be disbursed directly to the contractor from the county after a progress inspection has been completed.
Interested landlords/owners should call or e-mail Gaitre Rambharose in the Westchester County Department of Planning at 914-995-2429 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is not the first time Westchester County utilized federal funding programs targeted at the multifamily sector.
Back in September 2020, during the height of the COVID pandemic, Westchester launched the “Community Build Back Program” that included two programs that utilized HUD money—the RED STOP Eviction Project and the RED Rent HELP Project—along with two other separate initiatives that utilized $10 million in CARES ACT funding targeted for homeowners and small business.
The RED STOP Eviction Project utilized federal HUD funds and provided up to four months of rental or utility arrears for tenants that faced eviction or shut off as long as they could demonstrate that their financial hardship was due to COVID.
The RED Rent HELP Project utilized federal HUD funds and provided up to 12 months of rental assistance for families impacted by COVID. The program was focused on households where the tenants worked in industries closed during the COVID lockdown or who worked for a business that no longer existed.