Hochul Calls for Special Session to Address Eviction Crises

Stock photo from 123rf

Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday said she was in talks with legislative leaders to call a special session following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to allow evictions to resume across the country.

In an unsigned opinion, the court ruled the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which reimposed the moratorium Aug. 3, lacked the authority to do so without explicit congressional authorization, according to the Associated Press.

“I am in talks with the Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker to call a special session to address the impending eviction crisis, given the Supreme Court’s decision. Our teams will be working through the weekend to address how best to deliver relief to renters and homeowners in need as quickly as possible,” said Hochul.

In the meantime, Hochul and other local lawmakers and nonprofit leaders doubled down on their call for residents behind on their rent to apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

“It is critical that New Yorkers know that anyone who applies to the rent relief program will automatically be protected from eviction while their application is pending. More than $800 million has already been already disbursed or is now ready for landlords to accept on behalf of their tenants,” said Hochul. 

“More than $1 billion remains available for relief and resources are available through community organizations to help New Yorkers apply, receive eviction protection, and pay their rent. New Yorkers should complete and submit their applications immediately. This is urgent,” she added.

Meanwhile, the poverty-fighting Robin Hood Foundation, also called for Hochul to call a special legislative session to address the rollout of the rent relief program. The organization estimated that more than 800,000 renter households statewide — including half a million in New York City alone — are behind on their rent. 

“Governor Hochul inherited this crisis just one week into her administration, and we recognize the important actions she has taken. However, if we allow thousands of households to be evicted while the state works on improving the roll-out of its program, this additional investment will amount to far too little, and come much too late,” said Robin Hood Chief Policy Officer Jason Cone.

“Inaction could force hundreds of thousands of our neighbors to lose their homes, just as Delta-driven COVID-19 cases surge and hospitalizations rise,” Cone added.

But State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) said he doesn’t favor a special legislative session until the ERAP distributes the bulk of the $2.7 billion in rent relief for struggling tenants and landlords in the state.

Thus far over 160,000 New Yorkers applied since applications opened on June 1, but only $156 million has been handed out to just 12,000 applicants, said Felder.

“The snail pace with which the State is getting this rent relief to New Yorkers is simply unacceptable,” said Felder. “The continued rent moratorium, but lack of rental assistance, means that tenants are getting help at the expense of struggling small property owners who were hung out to dry – and they’ve suffered enough.” 

The ERAP makes payments directly to the landlord/property owner to cover a tenant’s rental arrears. 

Felder said small property owners, in particular, have been hard hit throughout the pandemic. State and Federal rent moratoriums mean that some tenants have not paid rents since March of 2020, while landlords are still paying taxes, utilities, and mortgages. Many small property owners need to borrow money to pay their bills and others are being forced into foreclosure, the lawmaker said.

Interested tenants and landlords can apply for the statewide program at https://otda.ny.gov/programs/emergency-rental-assistance/

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