Hochul calls Legislature back into special session as eviction moratorium is set to expire

Coronavirus Update for New York
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Gov. Kathy Hochul announced she is calling Legislature back into special session as eviction moratorium is set to expire.

The special session set for Wednesday at noon will:

- extend the eviction moratorium to Jan. 15
- expand the open meetings law so meetings can continue remotely
- confirm appointments to the Cannabis Control Board

Hochul said part of the eviction moratorium extension will be to address landlord concerns, giving them "due process" in evictions.

She said she wants to "wipe the slate clean" and come up with solutions for both renters and landlords. She called the eviction moratorium a crisis for small business owners also.

"We've gone through extraordinary times and we need to take steps now to protect the people of the State of New York, and I want to let them know that we are going to continue fighting for them in partnership with our legislative leaders," Hochul said.

The news come hours after there was an urgent plea to Hochul on Tuesday to take action and extend the eviction moratorium that is set to end at midnight.

A rally and march were held outside eviction court in Midtown as many residents are worried they will be left homeless if the moratorium is allowed to expire.

The Supreme Court last week allowed evictions to continue, blocking a temporary ban the Biden administration sought to enforce as part of its response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Meanwhile, most $46 billion in money allocated to a federal rent relief program has yet to be dispersed. That money was intended to help renters cover their bills, but it's caught up in red tape.

All this is leaving both renters and landlords in limbo.

"We have a rental assistance program, federal funding through the state. In my opinion, it should have been released months ago. But it wasn't. So now I'm going to clean this up," Hochul said.

The Rent Stabilization Association, which represents thousands of building owners, says if the state extends the moratorium, they're going to sue.

"Governor Hochul understands the severity of the financial devastation that has plagued landlords throughout this pandemic, and while we are hopeful that she will not allow politics to drive the actions of Albany lawmakers, we reiterate our intention to seek all legal remedies if the legislation is contrary to the recent SCOTUS decision," said Joseph Strasburg, President of the Rent Stabilization Association.

In New Jersey, lawmakers passed an eviction moratorium that stays into effect until Jan. 1, 2022, but the state is also struggling to disburse federal rental aid.

In a letter to Murphy sent Monday New Jersey's House lawmakers called on him to expedite bulk payments to landlords and utility companies as well as to take advantage of new flexibility in federal guidelines. The letter is signed by 10 of the state's 12 representatives, all of whom are Democrats. New Jersey has disbursed about more than $212 million, or about 60% of the first wave of federal emergency rental assistance spending.

States across the country are struggling with disbursing $47 billion allocated by Congress for emergency rental assistance.

The amount is greater than the Department of Housing and Urban Development's annual budget and was allocated in December and March.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also announced on Monday the state will not be extending the $300 a week unemployment supplement saying it's costing taxpayers a billion dollars a month.

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