By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
As New Yorkers are still reeling for the economic impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio called on Albany to extend the state’s eviction moratorium until August.
In March, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statewide moratorium on evictions that expired the past weekend. Now, there are only eviction protections for New Yorkers eligible for unemployment or who have experienced financial hardship because of the virus. Those that qualify will remain protected until August 20. It is unclear how courts will decide who is protected under the extended moratorium though.
Housing rights groups project that between 50,000 and 60,000 cases could be filed over the next few days now that New York City housing courts have partially opened, according to The New York Times.
“So many people are hurting, so many people just don’t have money for rent. Keeping a roof over their head is crucial right now,” said Mayor de Blasio. ” Anyone who can’t pay the rent should not be evicted period.”
De Blasio called for a full eviction moratorium through August 20 and for the state place tenants who miss rent on a year-long payment plan to make up for back rent once they are able to work.
Some advocates argue that this proposal is just a way for de Blasio to push off an eviction crisis until he is out of office. About 30 % of low-income tenants use 50 percent of their income to pay rent, according to Ellen Davidson, staff attorney for The Legal Aid Society. And roughly 50 % of low-income tenants use 30 % of their salary to pay.
Davidson theorizes that if tenants are given 12 months to pay back unpaid rent those in a lower income bracket would need to use all of their income to pay rent for a year to become current. This unrealistic expectation would exacerbate financial hardships resulting in evictions and sending thousands to housing court.
“It’s like he is saying to them, ‘you are on your own,’” said Davidson.
De Blasio again asked Washington to step in and give full rental support and to prevent foreclosures.