Renters and landlords in Tompkins County are feeling the burden of increased costs as COVID relief funds have run dry.
The Human Service Coalition of Tompkins County (HSC) recently released the results of their renter check-in survey, which found high cost of rent to be one of the primary struggles for renters in the Ithaca area. According to Simone Gatson, a housing specialist with HSC, most renters have kept up their rent since the start of the pandemic, but for many, that has meant neglecting other bills.
Another common concern for renters is the quality of the property on which they live. Several respondents out of the more than 200 surveyed by HSC pointed to lack of landlord responsiveness as a major issue.
“A number of landlords, particularly who rent to lower-income folks, seem to not be complying with [the] requirement of getting a certificate of compliance or getting it updated,” said Keith McCafferty, managing attorney at Legal Assistance of Western New York (LawNY), according to Tompkins Weekly. “We find a lot of tenants are living in places where certificates have expired but the landlord is still collecting the rent and not making repairs.”
Additionally, recent trends in the housing markets as well as increased costs of good and services and fuel have had a major impact on local landlords.
Organizations across the county have been doing what they can to help. Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS) recently ran out of its Rental Assistance Program funding, which provided 143 area households with rental assistance.
Though the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds have dried up, applications are still being accepted. The state hopes the federal government will replenish the fund. Tenants with a pending ERAP application cannot be evicted.