Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been missing in action as the state failed to release the vast majority of $2.6 billion in federal funds for tenants on the brink of eviction, the head of the emergency rental relief program testified Tuesday, just before the accused sexual harasser announced his resignation.
“I have not had conversations with the governor about this,” Michael Hein, commissioner of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, admitted to lawmakers at an Assembly hearing in Lower Manhattan.
Assemblyman Mike Lawler (R-Rockland County) had asked Hein when was the last time he’d spoken with Cuomo about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program passed by Congress in January.
That’s when Hein answered that he’d never spoken to the governor about the program. Instead he communicates with Cuomo’s deputies, Hein testified.
While Hein’s office has paid out $140 million to contractors to administer the program that’s beset with tech problems and only recently added a “save and resume” button to the lengthy online application, only $100 million has been distributed to tenants and landlords since June 1.
That’s just 3.7 percent of the $2.6 billion pot. The state risks forfeiting the federal funds if 65% of the money isn’t paid out by Sept. 30.
“I think what this shows is that the administration is incapable of administering this program,” Lawler fumed.