The statewide moratorium on eviction has been extended another month, offering temporary relief to thousands of New Yorkers at risk of losing their homes. The order was set to expire midnight on Thursday, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order extending the rule to September 4. The New York State Unified Court System is expected to announce on Thursday whether it will follow the mandate and issue new guidance on evictions.
“The order signed last night continued provisions giving the courts and litigants the leeway to suspend deadlines related to civil litigation,” Caitlin Girouard, a spokeswoman for the governor, told Crain’s. “How and if they use this authority when it comes to eviction proceedings is up to them.”
Cuomo first ordered a freeze on evictions in March, later extending the rule to August 5. The Tenant Safe Harbor Act, signed by the governor last month, only protects those who can prove they experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 crisis, not the roughly 14,000 people who were issued eviction warrants prior to the pandemic.
In addition to the thousands of current eviction warrants pending, an estimated 200,000 households in New York City are not protected by the bill, according to the Legal Aid Society. According to the law group, surrounding states have eviction freezes that go beyond the moratorium set by Albany, including New Jersey, where the moratorium was extended until October, and Philadelphia, where evictions are paused until next March.
“Thousands of families could face likely eviction and homelessness if this crucial moratorium is left to expire,” Judith Goldiner, Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society, said in a press release Wednesday. “New York’s neighboring states have protections in place to secure tenants in their homes during the pandemic.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday called on the state to allow for a payment plan model for New Yorkers who cannot pay rent. De Blasio, who said on Thursday about 1.3 million residents in NYC do not have jobs, said the city’s Department of Social Services reached out to the 14,000 people who were issued eviction warrants prior to March and offered legal support.
“The best solution resides in Washington D.C.,” de Blasio said during a press conference. “Rental assistance for everyone who has lost their job, so they can keep their home and landlords have the money to keep up their buildings.”
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