The Cuomo Pandemic Scandal No One Is Talking About
When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced his plans to resign come August 24, the response from almost everyone was “good riddance.”
The sexual harassment allegations that prompted the governor’s resignation are reason enough to wish Cuomo a speedy goodbye. Many writers, including Reason‘s Liz Wolfe, argued that the governor’s policy early in the pandemic of requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients—and his attempted cover-up of all the deaths that caused—should have led to his ouster long ago.
Before we say bon voyage to the disgraced governor, it’s worth noting another of his pandemic policies that has proven to be a massive scandal: the disastrous rollout of New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
The last two COVID relief bills passed by Congress in December 2020 and March 2021 collectively appropriated $46 billion to cover the massive amount of unpaid rent that tenants have accumulated during the pandemic.
By the end of January 2021, the federal government had released close to $25 billion of that money—including about $1.2 billion to New York state’s ERAP. Subsequent federal grants and state money would fund the program to the tune of $2.7 billion, according to City Limits.
And yet by the end of June, New York had, per U.S. Treasury Department data, managed to spend $0 of its rent relief funds. A month later only $1.2 million had gone out the door.
A major reason for the slow dispersal of funds is that the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA)—which is responsible for administering the program—took until June 2021 to start accepting applications. When it did get an online application portal up and running, tenants and landlords were met with
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