New calls to help most vulnerable after New York eviction moratorium ends

Darla Miles Image
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
New calls to help most vulnerable after NY eviction moratorium ends
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New York tenants lost some protection from eviction and foreclosure as the state ended a nearly 2-year-old eviction moratorium. Eyewitness News reporter Darla Miles has the latest.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York tenants and homeowners lost some protection from eviction and foreclosure Saturday as the state ended a nearly 2-year-old moratorium aimed at keeping New Yorkers from losing their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Advocates and landlords didn't expect a flood of evictions right away, as the state's Emergency Rental Assistance Program still provides some eviction protection.

"I think there's been a misunderstanding that has been pushed by the advocates on this," said Joseph Strasburg with the Rent Stabilization Association. "They've argued there's a tsunami, there will be a tsunami of evictions."

Despite the fear and anxiety, there's no eviction tsunami in housing court underway Tuesday after the eviction moratorium ended Saturday.

"All it means is that owners are able to submit petitions for the first time for non-payment that they were precluded from doing so in the last 22 months," Strasburg said.

In fact, landlords are joining the call from Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams for more funding to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, or ERAP, according to Strasburg, whose Rental Stabilization Program represents 25,000 small property owners.

"Our members who provide the most affordable housing in this city, are ending up having to walk away from their properties," he said. "Because no resources have been allocated to them."

Even though there is no money to fund it, the state was ordered by federal court to resume accepting applications.

Eviction is delayed while applications are under review. And tenants should also know they're also covered by the New York State Safe Harbor Act which was passed last June and prevents evictions for those impacted by COVID-19.

"What will occur in the housing courts, it's going to be so backed up, the likelihood of going to trial will be at least a minimum of a year," Strasburg said.

Still, tenants rights advocates are pushing for another layer of protection.

"We have a demand of the court system, if a tenant does not have legal representation, that no case moves forward," said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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