An anonymous donor has stepped forward with a $30,000 grant for Organizacion Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island to continue its education and advocacy efforts to prevent homelessness and illegal evictions.
One of the ways OLA has been able to accomplish these tasks is by helping people access New York State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The program is still accepting new applicants, according to Minerva Perez, OLA’s executive director, despite recent inaccurate news reports that said it had been closed. However, the state’s pot of money, sourced from the federal government, is limited, with much of its $2 billion allotment having been paid or committed. New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul has requested more from the United States Department of the Treasury.
The program provides landlords with back rent and future rent payments directly on behalf of their tenants. “If they don’t get those applications in now, there’s a good chance that the money will be obligated in coming days,” Ms. Perez said.
In addition to helping with the rental assistance program, OLA has hired two people to connect people with the resources they need to navigate the court system. That might range from providing access to a computer and Wi-Fi for virtual court appearances to pro bono representation in some cases.
The issue existed well before the pandemic began, but Covid-19 only exacerbated the situation. The state’s moratorium on residential evictions expires Jan. 15, and Ms. Perez said OLA is very concerned about the coming impact of that expiration.
There is a legal process, she said, but “what we’re seeing is there are a number of illegal evictions that are happening. People and lawyers are sidelining these processes, getting aggressive and doing things that are illegal.”