After its H1N1 program, New York’s housing authorities are closing up shop

The State of New York will stop accepting applications for funding in the H1N1 Pandemic Rental Assistance Program (PROMP) on January 16, 2021. Two years after New York State created the PROMP, which provides…

After its H1N1 program, New York’s housing authorities are closing up shop

The State of New York will stop accepting applications for funding in the H1N1 Pandemic Rental Assistance Program (PROMP) on January 16, 2021.

Two years after New York State created the PROMP, which provides funds to New York City low-income residents to support the purchase of H1N1 vaccine, housing authorities will no longer accept applications for the program. The program is being phased out by a law passed in August 2018 that included a directive for it to “end.”

The PROMP was created to prevent New York from shutting off the utility of basic services (bunk beds, heating, water, and the electricity to cook) to make way for influenza vaccines. It ran from the time of the pandemic outbreak, between April 2009 and September 2010, and provided funding of up to $400,000 for each household.

The funding came from $10 billion in H1N1 contingency funds to states and territories, which came from the federal government. The contingency funds were supposed to protect states from crippling deficits, not to cover medical costs.

The PROMP saved billions, but local housing authorities have complained that the program overburdened them with high costs and also encouraged unnecessary policy changes. In the most populous city, New York City, 24 health clinics were shut down.

With the good news of ending the program, the bad news comes:

About $14 million is left to disperse among housing authorities. So far, $3.3 million has been distributed, with about $1.7 million left for smaller jurisdictions. The most money remains available to the City of New York and the largest housing authority in the state: New York City Housing Authority.

The mortality rate during the H1N1 pandemic was much higher than during the 2009-2010 recession. The rate at which people died of influenza during the H1N1 outbreak was higher than the rate for all influenza deaths combined during the 2009 recession, according to a January 31 story in The New York Times, including during the more recent recession, which followed the H1N1 pandemic.

The estimated cost of administering the program came to $42 million, a figure smaller than the cost of administering it. This meant that housing authorities made up a large part of the costs.

This article appeared in the January issue of Washingtonian.

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