New York’s eviction moratorium will not be extended after it expires this weekend, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday. In the meantime, the state’s rent-relief portal will be reopened to give aid to New Yorkers facing eviction. The freeze on evictions was established at the beginning of the Covid pandemic by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to give relief to struggling New Yorkers. Over the past two years, it has been extended multiple times, with Hochul extending it to January 15 during her first week in office.
“We talked about giving people a little more breathing room, giving them just a little more relief on a short-term basis, and that went all the way to January 15,” Hochul said on Tuesday. “That was something no other state has done to my knowledge, and what we want to do is let people know that that is concluding very shortly.”
The ending of New York’s eviction moratorium comes after months of legal struggles between the federal government and New York. Last August, the Supreme Court partially blocked New York’s eviction moratorium claiming that the ban was unconstitutional because landlords had no way to challenge their tenant’s claims. When Hochul extended the ban in September, the original moratorium was altered to allow landlords to challenge their tenant’s claims in court.
Offering struggling New Yorkers an alternative, Hochul brought up the idea of reopening the rent-relief portal, which would give New Yorkers facing eviction the opportunity to have their eviction proceedings halted temporarily. “There is another option, which is reopening the portal. This is going to have the same effect in terms of allowing people to take advantage of a situation if they’re not able to pay their rent. They can have a cessation of the eviction proceedings for the time being.”
With the expiration of the moratorium closing in, tenant advocates have focused their attention on pushing for the passage of the good cause eviction bill, which would ban landlords from denying tenants a lease renewal without sufficient reasoning. The bill also guarantees tenants protection from eviction if their landlords increase their rent by 3 percent or by 150 percent of the Consumer Price Index.
In October of 2021, the federal government said that it would be reallocating unused funds from its first $25 billion allocation for emergency rental assistance and would be taking requests from states who needed a portion of it. In November, the state requested $1 billion in supplemental funding from the Department of Treasury to help residents facing eviction but received only $27 million this week.
“The federal government said that they were going to set aside money from other states that didn’t use it. We asked the Department of Treasury for over $978 million of that money to come to New York to help our backlog because by then we had probably $1 billion dollars worth of claims,” Hochul said. “That money, despite our efforts, resulted in $27 million dollars this week.”
Joseph Strasburg, the president of the Rent Stabilization Association, a group representing 25,000 owners of rent-stabilized apartments in the city, encouraged the end of the moratorium.
“The rolling eviction moratorium, now going on nearly two years, was intended as a temporary emergency response, and not as a long-term, sustainable solution,” Strasburg said. “The state of emergency was lifted last June, tenants have received billions of dollars in rent relief and other federal and state assistance, and despite COVID variants, the economy continues to rebound with millions of job openings still waiting to be filled. It’s time to end the eviction moratorium and put an end to tenants skipping the rent because there are no repercussions for not paying.”
In his statement, Strasburg mentioned that despite the eviction moratorium coming to an end, New Yorkers facing eviction in the face of Covid-related financial struggles are protected by the Tenant Safe Harbor Act.
The rent-relief portal is set to reopen on Tuesday at 10 p.m. New Yorkers in need of rent assistance can find out more here.
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