SUFFOLK COUNTY

Rental assistance for Suffolk residents slated to open next month

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Suffolk County has received over $7.5 million in federal rental assistance designed to assist residents who are struggling financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, county officials confirmed this week.

“While we continue to navigate this ongoing public health crisis, we want to ensure that anyone facing hardships is able to keep a roof over their head and stay safe,” Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone said online last week.

The application period for residents is slated to open in February. Meanwhile, county officials are exploring ways to maximize payouts by collaborating with local municipalities, county officials confirmed through email. 

The move comes as the weekly positivity rate in Suffolk remains above the New York State average. Approximately 1,117 new cases were reported on Saturday, Jan. 23, bringing the percent posi- tivity results up to 5.7 percent, according to New York State Department of Health data.

Long Island’s seven-day average was 6.99 percent on Jan. 23 – which is higher than any other region in the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in a press briefing last week.

The high demand for COVID-19 vaccines in Suffolk has led to some difficulty in scheduling appointments. Cuomo has previously stated that the federal government has not been able to provide a sufficient number of vaccines to meet the demand throughout the state.

The state is currently operating on a week-by-week basis of obtaining and receiving vaccines. Almost all – approximately 97 percent – of the vaccines distributed to Long Island have been administered, according to the New York State COVID-19 tracker. Approximately 88 percent of all first doses have been administered statewide.

This weekend, the Suffolk County Police Department’s Tactical Medic team and Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services administered the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to firefighters and first responders on Saturday, Jan. 23.

Meanwhile, the state is no longer accepting applications for the Raising the NYS Bar Restaurant Recovery Fund, a $3 million program intended to help restaurants pay for COVID-19 safety measures.

The program is intended to support full-service restaurants – the industry hit hardest by the pandemic – during the winter months when outdoor dining is limited and as restaurants adjust to New York State’s COVID-19 safety restrictions and mandates.

Eligible small businesses that have already filed an application can receive up to $5,000 to adjust their operations to the impacts of COVID-19 and adherence to New York State’s public health and safety measures during the winter months when outdoor dining is limited.

The restaurant recovery fund, which opened applications Jan. 11, was created by the state with help from Diageo Wine & Spirits and Southern Glazer Wines & Spirits. Grant funding is managed by the National Development Council.

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