Running out of time: Tenants rally in Foley Square for eviction ban extension

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Demonstrators say time is up for elected officials to extend the eviction moratorium.
Photo by Dean Moses

Tenants have five days before landlords can pursue eviction processes — but renters at a rally on Monday say they need at least one more year.

May 1 is the last day of the eviction moratorium, which has protected thousands of New Yorkers from landlords pursuing legal action against tenants who are facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Activists call for a year’s extension of the eviction moratorium. Photo by Dean Moses

Led by the Housing Justice for All, activists and tenants gathered at Foley Square demanding that legislators pass a bill extending the protection until at least Aug. 31 as they fight for rent to be canceled.  State Senator Brian Kavanaugh and Assembly member Jeff Dinowitz have put forward legislation that would provide a four-month extension — but more than 100,000 tenants are at risk of eviction after May 1 if the legislation is not passed on time, and if Governor Andrew Cuomo does not sign the bill, before then.

“Eviction is violence!” and “Fight, fight, fight, fight housing is a human right” chants echoed throughout the Court District as protesters marched from Foley Square to Manhattan Housing Court (located at 111 Centre St.), calling for Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, and New York State Senator Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to step up and aid their constituents. 

Many of the signs demanded relief. Photo by Dean Moses

Protesters shared stories of the way in which the novel coronavirus has turned their world upside down, from losing their jobs and fighting for unemployment, to facing food insecurity on top of a devastating health crisis. The last thing many of them wanted to fear was losing their home due to the inability to choose between paying their rent and feeding their families.

The eviction moratorium protects tenants who have filed forms declaring that they have faced financial hardships due to the pandemic and small landlords are shielded from foreclosures due to lost rental income.

Feelings on the ongoing fight are written all over their masks. Photo by Dean Moses

“Everywhere we go, people want to know who we are, so we tell them: We are the tenants, the mighty, mighty tenants, fighting for justice, cancel rent,” protesters chanted.

Protesters also shared that they worry, if they are evicted, it would be a near-death sentence amid an ongoing global pandemic. One man, began to cry profusely as he told fellow protesters that despite the moratorium, he was served an eviction notice from his landlord.

Holding signs and banners, those at the rally asked for aid. Photo by Dean Moses

“We are demanding that Albany extend the eviction moratorium. We are demanding good cause eviction and on top of that looking into the future, this city needs to double down on what Albany did. we need a tenant protection unit that we can go to right down the block, rather than having to go all the way to Albany to get the things we need,” said Josué Pierre, a candidate running for District 40 City Council.

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