To Delay a Wave of Evictions, New York Is Expected to Extend Moratorium
New York State on Wednesday was poised to extend sweeping protections against evictions into next year, moving to keep hundreds of thousands of …
New York State on Wednesday was poised to extend sweeping protections against evictions into next year, moving to keep hundreds of thousands of people still facing financial difficulties during the pandemic in their homes.
The move appeared to be the first by a state to put in place new barriers to eviction after the U.S. Supreme Court last week rejected the Biden administration’s moratorium.
Taken with another Supreme Court ruling earlier this month that blocked a key piece of New York’s previous statewide moratorium, many tenant advocates feared a wave of evictions was looming. But a new agreement, which is expected to pass the State Legislature later Wednesday, would restore a moratorium until Jan. 15 — creating one of the most extensive such measures in the nation.
The move reflected how, even as vaccinations are helping revive many parts of the economy, the enormous amount of rent owed threatens to hobble the recovery, leaving large numbers of low-income residents facing debt or homelessness.
The need in the state is particularly acute. No other state has a higher share of renters than New York, with the vast majority living in New York City. More than 700,000 households are behind on rent, according to a recent analysis of U.S. census data, trailing only California, where about 750,000 households are behind.
The moratorium’s extension will mark Gov. Kathy C. Hochul’s most significant undertaking since she became the state’s top executive last week after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo resigned amid a slew of sexual harassment allegations.
Ms. Hochul, a Democrat, brokered the deal to strengthen eviction protections with the Democratic leaders of the State Legislature, who often had an adversarial relationship with her predecessor.
In a move that underscored the situation’s urgency, Ms. Hochul called lawmakers back to Albany for an extraordinary session to extend the state moratorium, which expired on Tuesday.
“In light of the Supreme Court ruling to strike down the federal eviction moratorium, the Senate majority is taking action to adjust and extend the state’s eviction moratorium to ensure that thousands of New Yorkers are protected from losing their homes and at the same time helping small landlords,” Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic majority leader in the State Senate, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Though lawmakers believe the legislation will conform with the Supreme Court ruling on the state’s previous moratorium, the new measures could face court challenges, with a major landlord group already threatening to file a lawsuit if they believe the legislation will curtail the rights of property owners.
And even if the extended moratorium provides a temporary safeguard for renters, it might prove futile if the state doesn’t quickly distribute $2.7 billion in rent relief that has mostly languished, leaving renters and landlords with troves of unpaid bills.
As of Tuesday, more than $203 million had been paid out for about 15,000 households, according to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which is running the rent relief program.