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New York lawmakers approve sweeping eviction moratorium

PHOTO CREDITS: OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR/DON POLLARD

New York lawmakers have approved a sweeping eviction moratorium. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the emergency moratorium which would extend the state’s ban on evictions past January 1st.

The bill would halt evictions and foreclosures for 60 days. Tenants or Mortgagers who have lost their source of income can submit a “hardship declaration” which would prevent any evictions until May 1st. Those who do not have that documentation are not exempt from being evicted. According to Politico, “The National Council of State Housing Agencies commissioned a report earlier this year estimating that New York could face a rent shortfall of as much as $3.4 billion by January”. Upon signing the bill, Governor Cuomo stated, “When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we asked New Yorkers to protect each other by staying at home.

As we fight our way through the marathon this pandemic has become, we need to make sure New Yorkers still have homes to provide that protection…his law adds to previous executive orders by protecting the needy and vulnerable who, through no fault of their own, face eviction during an incredibly difficult period for New York.” State Senator, Brian Kavanagh, and sponsor of the bill said, “By enacting this comprehensive residential eviction and foreclosure moratorium, we are delivering real protection for countless renters and homeowners who would otherwise be at risk of losing their homes, adding to the unprecedented hardship that so many are facing”.

Tenant advocacy groups have been pushing for relief bills to be passed for months, as the cut off for relief was coming close, they have continued to be vocal about the need for rent relief. However, many landlord groups are not happy with the bill and are calling into question what this could mean for property owners. Although there are some protections for homeowners, landlord groups say that many are struggling to pay real estate taxes and utilities.

Joseph Strasburg, head of the Rent Stabilization Association, has noted that because people do not have to give proof of economic hardship, that many renters will take advantage of the bill despite having the means to pay. State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) has also expressed similar concerns, “I just have a fear that because [tenants] don’t need a lot of documentation, they don’t need to really prove that they’re unemployed or that they have any of these things or conditions.”

Brian Kavanagh, chair of the housing committee, has rebutted and said that the bill is not a “rent holiday” and that it is against the law to file a hardship declaration with falsified information. Tenant advocacy groups although praising the bill continue to urge for further action. The Housing Justice for All coalition said in a statement that, “ This bill is only a temporary solution to the urgent housing crisis we find ourselves in… our legislature must clear the back rent owed by New Yorkers and create a hardship fund for small landlords struggling to keep their buildings safe and afloat.”

ARTICLE: YULIANIE HERNANDEZ

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

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