TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. –– Rental assistance is available both through New York State and Tompkins County to those in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York State’s COVID Rent Relief Program will provide eligible households with a one-time rental subsidy that will be sent directly to the household’s landlord and will not require repayment.

Applications will be accepted throughout the two-week application period and will prioritize eligible households with “greatest economic and social need” accounting for income, rent burden, percent of income lost and risk of homelessness.

Applicants’ household income must have been below 80% of the area median income, adjusted for household size. For a two-person household in Tompkins income needs to be below $54,800 to be eligible.

Additionally, before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, applicants must be categorized as rent-burdened –– meaning they have been paying more than 30% of gross monthly income towards rent. Gross income includes wages as well as any cash grants, child support, social security, unemployment benefits, or other liquid assets.

To prove financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, applicants for the NYS rent relief program must have less monthly income in any month between April 2020 and July 2020 than they did prior to March 1, 2020 due to coronavirus.

The rental assistance payment will cover the difference between the household’s rent burden on March 1, 2020 and the increase in rent burden for the months the household is applying for assistance. Households can apply for up to four months in rental assistance.

The application for this program is available online.

Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services’ (INHS) COVID-19 related loss of income rental assistance program is also still accepting applications. The program, which was announced in June, will provide eligible residents with up to three months of rent relief if they experienced a COVID-19 related loss of income and fall within the household income limits.

Approximately $790,000 of INHS’ existing grant funding has been made available to Tompkins County residents for this program, enough to serve about 150 households outside the City of Ithaca. INHS also received an additional $190,000 from the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency’s (IURA) Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) to serve approximately 50 households in the City of Ithaca.

To apply, fill out the application packet which can be mailed or dropped off to115 West Clinton St, Ithaca, or uploaded to the INHS dropbox, sent in a secured email to, or faxed to (607) 277-4536.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at