Exploring Variations in ERAP Application Rates Across New York State

Data Updates | September 16th 2021 | Carl Hedman, Ellie Lochhead

The State Street Historic District in Carthage, New York.

According to the most recent Household Pulse Survey, a quarter of renters in New York State—nearly 1 million individuals—are behind on rent payments and have rental arrears. Of these renters, 38 percent predict that they are somewhat or very likely to be evicted sometime in the next two months. After a slow start in New York relative to states that did not use a legislative process to create new rental assistance programs, recent reports indicate an acceleration of obligations and disbursements of Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds. Landlord outreach and participation remain crucial in turning obligated funds, which are earmarked once a tenant applies and is determined eligible, into payments, which are only made once landlords are aware of and complete their portion of the application.

As of August 31, 2021, only about 11 percent ($300,473,917) of the $2.7 billion allocated to the New York State’s ERAP had been paid, though that figure increased to nearly 15 percent ($399 million) by September 14. Of the 182,528 total rental assistance applications that New York State received, as of August 31, 23,128 (12.7 percent) of applicants have had payments issued to landlords. An additional 48,109 applications (26.4 percent) have been approved but not paid, together totaling $924,228,838 in assistance and approximately 34 percent of the available funds.

In this post, we analyze New York State ERAP applications and the demographic, economic, and housing characteristics of the ZIP Codes where renters have filed applications as of August 31, 2021. Exploring the variation in location and characteristics of  the ZIP Codes where renters have filed applications can shed light on the communities where the demand for rental assistance has been higher thus far. However, due to challenges with ERAP program take-up and recruitment, this analysis may also offer evidence of where the program has been more effective in reaching low-income renter households with arrears and where there may remain significant unmet need.
 
Our analysis finds that ZIP Codes within New York City have the highest shares of very low-income (VLI) renters who applied for assistance, followed by ZIP Codes within non-New York City metropolitan areas across the state, then suburban ZIP Codes in the New York City metropolitan area, then non-metropolitan ZIP Codes. Statewide, application rate is positively correlated with the share of renters who are Black and Hispanic and negatively correlated with the share of renter households who are age 65 and over by ZIP Code. Within New York City, application rates are positively correlated with the share of households with children under 18 in a ZIP Code and negatively correlated with the share of rental properties with five or more units.

The analysis suggests that additional outreach efforts may be needed in rural and non-metropolitan communities and among senior households. However, it may be the case that these older renters were less likely to be economically impacted by the pandemic due to greater reliance on income sources (e.g., Social Security and pension) that remained stable through the pandemic and may therefore have lower need for rental assistance. Additionally, lower rents in non-metropolitan communities may correspond to lesser need for rental assistance relative to urban areas.

Methodology

The following figures present New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) application rates normalized by the number of VLI renter households— those earning 50 percent or less of Area Median Income (AMI)— at the ZIP Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA) level. The analysis uses New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) ERAP arrears applications summarized at the ZIP Code level as of August 31, 2021. AMI levels are calculated based on 2021 HUD four-person income limits by county published by OTDA. The seven jurisdictions (the City of Rochester and Monroe County, the City of Yonkers, Onondaga County and the towns of Hempstead, Islip and Oyster Bay) that received funding for emergency rental assistance directly from the federal government and opted to administer their programs separately from New York State are excluded from the analysis. The figures for the number of VLI renter households, as well as other demographic and housing characteristics, rely on 2015-19 ACS estimates summarized at the ZCTA level.
 
We use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural-Urban Continuum Codes to determine ZIP Codes with metropolitan and non-metropolitan designation. ZIP Codes within the New York City metropolitan area but outside the city limits are those located within Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Nassau counties.

Geographic Patterns

Even after controlling for variations in the number of VLI renter households, the application rate (the number of applications per VLI renter household) was significantly higher in New York City ZIP Codes than in the rest of the state and somewhat higher in other metropolitan ZIP Codes than non-metropolitan areas on average.

Figure 1 presents the application rate (as a share of VLI renter households) for ZIP Codes within New York City, ZIP Codes in suburban areas of the New York City metropolitan area, ZIP Codes in other metropolitan regions in the state, and ZIP Codes in non-metropolitan or rural areas in New York. ZIP Codes within New York City had the highest application rate at 12.0 applications per 100 VLI renter households. By contrast, ZIP Codes located within suburban areas of the New York City metro area were almost half the citywide average: 6.9 applications per 100 VLI renter households. ZIP Codes within metro areas outside of New York City (such as Albany, Buffalo, and Poughkeepsie) had the second highest application rate at 8.2 applications per 100 VLI renter households. The application rate was lowest in  non-metropolitan or rural areas of New York (6.0 per 100 VLI renter households).

Figure 1: Arrears Application Rate per 100 VLI Renter Households by County Metropolitan Status

A bar chart demonstrating that New York City ZIP Codes have the highest application rate per non-metropolitan ZIP Codes.

The application approval rate—defined as the share of arrears applications that were approved and payment issued—also varied regionally, but the difference was less stark. New York City had the highest application approval rate (13.1 percent), followed by suburban New York City metro area (12.2 percent), and metropolitan area outside of the New York City region (11.3 percent). Non-metropolitan areas had the lowest approval rate (9.9 percent).

Figure 2: Arrears Application Approval Rate by County Metropolitan Status

Figure showing NYC Zip Codes with highest approval rate,  followed by NYC Metro Areas,  non-NYC Metro areas, and last non-metro zip codes.

While urban regions of New York tended to have higher application rates, there was variation within metropolitan areas. In New York City (Figure 3), for example, application rate per VLI renter households were lower in the Manhattan neighborhoods of the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, Greenwich Village, East Village, and SoHo. The application rate per VLI renter household was also lower in Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Gravesend, and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn and Flushing and Forest Hills in Queens.

Figure 3: Map of Arrears Application Rate per 100 VLI Renter Households by ZIP Codes in New York City

Zoom and mouse-over ZIP Codes to explore variations across the state.

Share:

Source: 2015-2019 5-year American Community Survey and New York State ERAP Application Figures as of 8/31/21 (NY OTDA), NYU Furman Center.

Similarly, while application rates were generally lower in non-metro and rural regions across the state, there were also notable variations within these regions. In Chautauqua County in Western New York, for example, five ZIP Codes had no arrears applications submitted, but seven ZIP Codes had 5.0 or more applications per 100 VLI renter households. While the range is largely explained by the limited number of possible applications in these ZIP Codes (all except Jamestown’s 14701 ZIP Code had 203 or fewer VLI renter households), it suggests that there are rural regions that have had modest success recruiting applicants.

There are additional clusters of low application rates in the North Country, the Southern Tier, and in the eastern Hudson Valley.

Figure 4: Map of Arrears Application Rate per 100 VLI Renter Households by ZIP Codes in Western New York

Zoom and mouse-over ZIP Codes to explore variations across the state.

Share:

Source: 2015-2019 5-year American Community Survey and New York State ERAP Application Figures as of 8/31/21 (NY OTDA), NYU Furman Center.

Correlations with ZIP Code Characteristics

Several demographic, economic, and housing characteristics are associated with higher arrears application rates. We explore correlations between the application rate per VLI renter household and ZIP Code characteristics, including: race and ethnicity; households with older adults and children; and shares of rental units in buildings with five or more units.

Because application totals are only available at the ZIP Code level, these correlations indicate only the relationships between applications and demographics in the ZIP Code overall and not the characteristics of individual applicants.

Race and Ethnicity

The graphs below show the correlations between application rate per VLI renter household and the share of Black and Hispanic renter households by ZIP Code. ZIP Codes within New York City are shown in blue and ZIP Codes in the rest of New York State are shown in gray. The size of the points corresponds to the total population of the ZIP Code. ZIP Codes with fewer than 40 VLI renter households are excluded from the figures.

Within New York City as well as in the rest of New York State, ZIP Codes with higher application rates per VLI renter household tend to be those with higher shares of renter households who are Black. These ZIP Codes with higher application rates also tend to have higher shares of renter households who are Hispanic, though this correlation is not as strong. While these relationships are present within New York City as well as the rest of the state, many of the ZIP Codes with the highest shares of Black and Hispanic renters are in New York City.

Figure 5: Arrears Application Rate per 100 VLI Renter Households and the Share of ZIP Code Renter Households whose Head is Black

ZIP Codes in New York City are colored blue and ZIP Codes in the rest of New York State are colored gray; mouse-over the dots to explore the demographic and housing characteristics of the ZIP Code.

Share:

Source: 2015-2019 5-year American Community Survey and New York State ERAP Application Figures as of 8/31/21 (NY OTDA), NYU Furman Center.

Figure 6: Arrears Application Rate per 100 VLI Renter Households and the Share of ZIP Code Renter Households whose Head is Hispanic

ZIP Codes in New York City are colored blue and ZIP Codes in the rest of New York State are colored gray; mouse-over the dots to explore the demographic and housing characteristics of the ZIP Code.

Share:

Source: 2015-2019 5-year American Community Survey and New York State ERAP Application Figures as of 8/31/21 (NY OTDA), NYU Furman Center.

Share of Older Adults and Households with Children

The application rate per VLI renter household is negatively correlated with the share of households in a ZIP Code with a head of household age 65 or over. ZIP Codes with larger shares of renters who are older adults tend to have lower application rates overall. This relationship exists for ZIP Codes across the state but is particularly strong in New York City.

Figure 7: Arrears Application Rate per 100 VLI Renter Households and the Share of ZIP Code Renter Households whose Head is 65 Years or Older

ZIP Codes in New York City are colored blue and ZIP Codes in the rest of New York State are colored gray; mouse-over the dots to explore the demographic and housing characteristics of the ZIP Code.

Share:

Source: 2015-2019 5-year American Community Survey and New York State ERAP Application Figures as of 8/31/21 (NY OTDA), NYU Furman Center.

The relationship between the share of renter households with children under 18 in a ZIP Code and application rate per VLI renter household differs between New York City and the rest of the state. In New York City ZIP Codes, there is a strong positive correlation between the share of households with children and application rate. ZIP Codes within the city with larger shares of renter households with children tend to be those with relatively higher application rates per VLI renter household. However, there is no strong correlation between households with children and application rates in ZIP codes across the rest of the state.

Figure 8: Arrears Application Rate per 100 VLI Renter Households and the Share of ZIP Code Renter Households with a Child Under 18 Years Old

ZIP Codes in New York City are colored blue and ZIP Codes in the rest of New York State are colored gray; mouse-over the dots to explore the demographic and housing characteristics of the ZIP Code.

Share:

Source: 2015-2019 5-year American Community Survey and New York State ERAP Application Figures as of 8/31/21 (NY OTDA), NYU Furman Center.

Share of Large Rental Properties

There is a negative correlation between the share of rental properties that have five or more units and application rate per VLI renter household for ZIP Codes within New York City. Somewhat surprisingly, application rates are lower in New York City ZIP Codes that have higher shares of rental properties with five or more units. Many of the ZIP Codes with higher shares of rental properties with five or more units are located in areas of Manhattan with lower application rates such as Greenwich Village, East Village, and SoHo (these ZIP Codes are the blue cluster on the lower right hand side of the graph). An outlier in Manhattan is ZIP Code 10004 in the Financial District, which has a high share of rental properties with five or more units as well as a high application rate. Also contributing to the negative correlation are ZIP Codes in Queens with low shares of rental properties with five or more units and high application rates (these are the blue clusters on the upper left hand side of the graph).

Outside of New York City, rental property size and application rate are not correlated at the ZIP Code level.   

Figure 9: Arrears Application Rate per 100 VLI Renter Households and the Share of ZIP Code Rental Units that are Located in Buildings with 5 Units or More

ZIP Codes in New York City are colored blue and ZIP Codes in the rest of New York State are colored gray; mouse-over the dots to explore the demographic and housing characteristics of the ZIP Code.

Share:

Source: 2015-2019 5-year American Community Survey and New York State ERAP Application Figures as of 8/31/21 (NY OTDA), NYU Furman Center.

Conclusion

This analysis may provide early evidence on the locations and characteristics of the communities where the ERAP program has had greater success recruiting applicants as well as where there may be communities where significant unserved need remains. It suggests that rural and suburban regions of the state may be particularly underserved and that older renters are less likely to successfully apply. It is possible that some of the differences in application rates reflect variation in need. For example, lower rents in rural regions may correspond to lesser need for assistance overall, and older renters may have been less likely to experience income loss due to greater reliance on Social Security and pension income that remained stable through the pandemic. While these important questions remain, we hope this analysis helps to inform state and local officials, tenant organizers, legal aid providers, and other practitioners in targeting program outreach, recruitment, and application submission assistance efforts.

« Previous | The Stoop | Next »