State leaders reach deal to extend eviction protections until Jan. 15: Hochul

Tenant advocates rally against evictions in Brooklyn in 2020.
File photo by Todd Maisel

Governor Kathy Hochul and state legislative leaders reached an agreement to extend New York’s eviction moratorium until Jan. 15, 2022, and lawmakers will convene at the Capitol in Albany Wednesday at noon for an extraordinary session to approve the continuation of the program, Hochul announced Tuesday evening.

“Under my watch, here in the State of New York, you’re not going to exacerbate what is already a crisis in terms of the homelessness problem,” Hochul told reporters in the State Capitol in Albany. “We are not going to allow people who — through no fault of their own — lost income, not able to pay, and facing eviction.”

The additional 4 1/2 month timeframe comes as New York’s COVID-era tenant protections were largely undone by two U.S. Supreme Court rulings in recent weeks and as the state’s moratorium was set to expire on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

The nation’s highest court sided with landlord groups and took aim at the so-called hardship declaration, which allows tenants to avoid eviction if they say they struggled economically due to the pandemic, a decision Hochul denounced as “heartless.”

The Governor said the new law, for which more details will emerge at Wednesday’s session, will address these legal challenges.

“We’ll be making sure that there’s due process provisions that the Supreme Court said were originally lacking in the New York law,” she said. “We’ll make it as airtight as we can.”

The landlord group Rent Stabilization Association previously said they plan to sue if the state extends the moratorium.

State leaders want to expand the safety net for those that qualify for rental and landlord support, according to the governor.

New York has received $2.7 billion in mostly federal funds through the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), but has distributed a mere $203 million to applicants since the program launched on June 1.

“Anyone who applies for and qualifies for the ERAP program… automatically, when you apply, there can be no eviction process commenced for a solid year,” Hochul noted. “You are protected the day you file that information.”

Hochul will also bring two nominees for the state’s Cannabis Control Board before state lawmakers for confirmation, part of a five-member board charged with creating the framework for licensing marijuana businesses, which she said will get the ball rolling on legal recreational weed sales in the Empire State. 

Other state appointments, such as those of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s leadership which is dominated by “acting” and “interim” roles, will have to wait until the start of next year, Hochul said.

“I’ll be announcing my other appointments and we have some outstanding candidates I’m excited about, but we’ll also have them in an acting role until they can receive their appropriate confirmation in January,” she said.

The special session will additionally include a proposal by the governor to tweak the state’s open meetings law so remote public meetings can continue temporarily, due to the ongoing resurgence of COVID-19 infections driven by the Delta variant.

To apply for state rent relief, you can visit www.nysrenthelp.otda.ny.gov or call the state’s hotline at (844) 691–7368.