DSA Lawmakers Demand State Pass New Eviction Moratorium

Stock Photo from 123RF.

Six Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) lawmakers are demanding the state legislature reconvene to pass a new eviction moratorium. This comes in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to issue a temporary injunction against New York’s eviction moratorium. 

State Senators Julia Salazar and Jabari Brisport, along with State Assembly members Phara Souffrant Forrest, Marcela Mitaynes, Zohran Mamdani, and Emily Gallagher released a joint statement calling for an emergency session to pass a new eviction moratorium. 

“In light of Friday’s Supreme Court decision, we are urging the legislature to reconvene an emergency session to pass a new eviction moratorium. Rent relief distribution has thus far been inadequate, and COVID-19 continues to spread at an exponential rate. We are therefore certain that allowing these tenant protections to lapse will threaten the safety and security of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers,” the statement reads. 

The Supreme Court had blocked a section of New York State law last week that prevented evictions from happening during the pandemic. Thousands of eviction cases will now be allowed to move forward leaving many at risk of being evicted sooner than expected.

The court’s order focused on the state’s policy that allowed for tenants to self-confirm they have experienced hardship due to Covid as opposed to having to show evidence. This scheme violates the Court’s longstanding teaching that ordinarily ‘no man can be a judge in his own case,’” the court said in their decision.

The statewide ban on evictions was initially supposed to be in effect through the end of August. Top House Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Cori Bush were asking President Joe Biden to extend the Federal moratorium until October. 

Now, people in New York State who have been served an eviction notice within the last 30 days can be evicted because of the Supreme Court’s decision.

“We call on our colleagues in the legislature to return to session and pass a moratorium that is not subject to the current injunction—and one that lasts until at least June 2022. This new moratorium must protect tenants and allow New York to address the colossal failures evident in the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP),” they said.

As elected officials, we supported the creation of ERAP as an easily accessible program, and it is disgraceful that one of the last acts of the Cuomo administration has been to render it nearly impossible for struggling tenants and landlords to receive aid. A new eviction moratorium must address the significant barriers in the ERAP program and create a streamlined, accessible application process,” the statement continues. 

The socialist lawmakers also said the state must do everything in its power to ensure that everyone living in New York State can remain in their homes, during the pandemic and beyond. 

“This includes passing Good Cause Eviction protections, providing adequate subsidies through the Housing Access Voucher Program, and allocating additional funds to social and public housing,” the statement continued.

Salazar, who spearheaded the statement, could not be reached for comment as to whether the group would also seek for residents to show proof that COVID-19 affected their ability to pay rent rather than just to self-confirm.

Salazar’s office also did not return inquiries on how the demand for better funding public housing was not met in the recent record $212 billion fiscal year 2022 state budget that included billions in federal stimulus relief. The budget allocated only $200 million towards the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). 

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who is set to become Governor on August 24, has said she wants to work quickly with lawmakers to “strengthen the eviction process.” 

Advocates recommend applying for federal rental assistance immediately for anyone who is at risk of being evicted.