Rochester, Monroe County partner to help renters, landlords facing financial difficulties

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Thanks to federal funding, and a county-city partnership, local landlords and renters facing financial hardship will be able to apply for assistance.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren joined Deputy Monroe County Executive Corinda Crossdale and other local officials Tuesday to announce the City-County Eviction Prevention Pilot Initiative.

“We’re here to amplify a very simple, but crucial message: If you are struggling to pay your rent during the pandemic please call 211 for help,” Warren said. “Rochester and Monroe County Have received almost $40 million in additional federal stimulus funding to help prevent evictions and homelessness in our community. This money is available to qualified tenants based on income and if they’ve already received an eviction notice — or if they are dealing with facing financial hardship related to the pandemic such as loosing a job or having a cut in pay. If you are a landlord and have a tenant that meets this criteria, you can call also. Landlords can apply for this funding on behalf of their tenants.”

The press conference was held at a new affordable downtown Rochester housing development, Charlotte Square on the Loop.

“We chose this location today because we want to demonstrate this program isn’t about numbers and dollars, it’s about lives and the importance of being able to stay in your home,” Warren said.

The mayor said housing hardship has been exacerbated by the ongoing public health crisis.

“We know there are renters out there who need our help,” Warren said. “About 25% of our renters in Rochester are behind on their March rent and landlords are struggling with their lost revenue. They’re having a hard time keeping up with their expenses and having to delay maintenance, so this pandemic is hurting both renters and landlords and today we are extremely proud to announce that help is available.”

The mayor said last year, government funding was able to provide approximately 2,000 renters with relief of nearly $5 million.

“Now we have over eight times that amount, closer to $30 million, and we’ve improved the application process and increased the eligibility requirement so we can help everyone that needs help,” Warren said.

“We’ve heard from countless residents who are facing financial hardship and the increase in fear of losing the roof over their heard if help is not given,” Crossdale said. “This problem isn’t new and it’s not going away anytime soon, but its doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help anyway we can. To kickstart this effort, Monroe County and the City of Rochester are pulling our federal rental assistant funding together to get a bigger bang for our buck.”

Luther Knight, a resident of the Charlotte Square on the Loop development in Rochester, said he’s thankful for the governmental assistance.

“I’m truly grateful for everyone that’s here, that they had this opportunity from the federal government,” Knight said. “It’s out there, there’s no excuse for not going to get it. Being homeless is a stressful situation, but you don’t have to feel that stress. Help has arrived.”

In December of 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 which puts a moratorium on both evictions and foreclosures until May 1.

In March of this year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced the nationwide eviction moratorium was extended through June 30.

City-County Funded Eviction Prevention Resources:

• Emergency Rental Assistance: Call 211 to apply. Open 24 hours. As of April 1, new income criteria has been applied to applications; and landlords are able to apply for rental assistance on behalf of consenting tenants.
• Housing Hotline: The Housing Council at PathStone Housing Hotline hosts counselors who answer questions and provide advice on tenant and landlord issues. It is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (585) 546-3700.
• Free Legal Representation: The Tenant Defense Project, an initiative of local legal-services agencies, provides free legal representation to tenants facing an eviction. To apply for free legal representation visit this website or call (585) 504-6195.

This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.

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