New York State’s eviction moratorium will expire this weekend, Governor Kathy Hochul confirmed Tuesday, adding that she will meet with the State Legislature to chart a path forward as hundreds of thousands of face evictions come Jan. 15.
The COVID-19-era hold on evictions across the Empire State will come to a close more than four months after the state extended the measure in September following the end of federal protections.
“We talked about giving people a little more breathing room, giving them a little more relief on a short term basis and that went all the way until Jan. 15,” said Hochul during a COVID briefing with the press in Manhattan on Jan. 11. “And what we want to do is let people know that that is concluding very shortly. I’m having conversations with the legislature on what to do on this issue.”
The governor had been considering letting the moratorium lapse in the new year, and she made no mention of it in her Jan. 5 State of the State address outlining her priorities.
Hochul announced she will sign on to a letter with other governors to the federal government asking for more rental assistant funds Tuesday, after New York is set to receive only $27.2 million out of the $1 billion officials hoped to get from Washington.
“That’s not going to get us over the finish line,” Hochul said. “What I don’t want to do is create false expectations. We can open a portal, people can sign up, but that also hinges on the federal government and what we want them to do, which is to allocate more money to this pot of money.”
Tenant advocates and politicians have pushed the governor and Albany lawmakers to pass the so-called Good Cause Eviction bill that would give tenants the right to a lease renewal in most cases, cap rent increases, and require landlords to get a judge’s order to evict residents.
“Now more than ever, New York must enact meaningful, long-term measures to address the growing housing crisis and stop the tidal wave of evictions that will likely begin once the moratorium expires this Saturday,” said Judith Goldiner, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society. “Across the state, millions of tenants in unregulated housing are still reeling from economic hardships caused by the pandemic, and they deserve basic, common-sense protections from unjust evictions.”
The governor did not address that legislation but noted that New Yorkers can still cease an eviction if they sign up with the state’s online Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which triggers eviction protections for pending applications.
However, the portal has run out of most of its funds and is currently only open to residents of some counties outside of New York City and households whose income is between 80-120% of the Area Median Income, which is between $95,440-$143,160 for a family of four in the larger NYC area.
A New York judge on Thursday issued an order giving the state agency in charge of ERAP, the Office of Temporary and Disability Administration, until Tuesday to reopen the portal, and Hochul said the website will open back up at the end of the day.
Tenant advocates slammed Hochul’s decision, saying it will almost guarantee to send New Yorkers into crowded shelters amid the continuing spread of the Omicron variant.
“This is infuriating,” said Cea Weaver, a campaign coordinator with the organization Housing Justice for All. “The legislature is meeting remotely and shutting down the [Legislative Office Building] — acknowledging that the crisis is surging. Meanwhile they are all but certain to be sending people back to congregate shelters. It’s heartless.”
The president of the landlord advocacy group the Rent Stabilization Association lauded the governor, arguing that renters have received billions in rent relief and other federal assistance, and that the New York’s COVID-19 state of emergency has been over since June.
“The rolling eviction moratorium, now going on nearly two years, was intended as a temporary emergency response, and not as a long-term, sustainable solution,” said Joseph Strasburg. “It’s time to end the eviction moratorium and put an end to tenants skipping the rent because there are no repercussions for not paying.”
New York State’s ERAP portal is available at otda.ny.gov/programs/emergency-rental-assistance/.