Call it the shortest political honeymoon in New York history.
Less than a week after Gov. Kathy Hochul replaced Andrew Cuomo in the executive mansion, U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn/Queens) spearheaded a letter from the City’s Democratic Congressional delegation urging Hochul to use her authority to extend the state’s pause on evictions for renters, currently set to expire tomorrow, Aug. 31.
The Aug. 28 letter follows last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively ending the federal eviction moratorium. It also comes as New York has received $2.5 billion through the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds, but has only doled out $156 million to 12,000 applicants since the program started on June 1, despite having over 160,000 New Yorkers applying.
“House Democrats and the Biden-Harris Administration have made funds available for landlords and renters through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, but these resources have been too slow in reaching New Yorkers,” said Jeffries. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and Governor Hochul should use her authority to ensure that no one is evicted while we work together to improve the rental assistance process for everyday New Yorkers.”
In their letter to Hochul, the Congressional members note that New York State has the highest share of renter households in the United States (46%), with 63% of those households located in New York City.
“In addition, minority communities are likely to be disproportionately affected by the end of the eviction moratorium. Hispanic households make up 37% of New York City’s low-income renter households and Black households make up 27%. Since April 2020, Black and Hispanic New Yorkers have also experienced higher rates of employment income loss than other racial or ethnic groups,” the members wrote.
“We remain concerned with the litany of problems regarding the roll out and execution of ERAP in New York. The state needs to address our concerns including the lack of outreach to potentially eligible households and the delays both for processing applications and making payments under the program,” they wrote.
The members argue in the letter that an extension of the eviction moratorium is the only way to ensure ERAP can both work as intended and keep families in their homes.
As PoliticsNY reported on Friday, Hochul was in discussions with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to call a special legislative session on this issue, but thus far no such session was called.
Hochul’s office did not return inquires from PoliticsNY regarding the issue at post time.