What there is to know
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Cuomo has signed an executive order to extend state protections to tenants who have faced financial hardship related to COVID-19 until September 4.
- New State Safe Harbor law prevents court from issuing eviction warrant against these tenants
- A lawyer for the Legal Aid Society said the law alone did not provide enough certainty for tenants who had been evicted before the pandemic
Evictions are still pending in New York City courts as housing advocates worry about the fate of around 14,000 tenants who were evicted before the state’s COVID-19 emergency.
Court spokeswoman Lucian Chalfen said on Friday that the state’s stay of evictions was still in effect thanks to a March 16 order signed by the state’s chief administrative judge.
The announcement comes as housing advocates, including the Legal Aid Society, are hoping New York courts will heed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s call for “no evictions” amid the pandemic.
This week, Cuomo said that a new state law clarifies that no evictions are allowed while New York is in a pandemic.
“I signed the law, and the law is clear,” Cuomo said on a conference call Thursday with reporters. ” Until when? Until I say COVID is over. And you know, we’ll know when that’s the case.
Cuomo signed an executive order on Wednesday to extend state protections for tenants who faced financial hardship related to COVID-19 until September 4.
Yet an attorney for the Legal Aid Society said the law alone did not provide enough certainty for tenants who had been evicted before the pandemic and could not afford rent.
Courts in New York City had 200,000 cases pending in housing courts and eviction warrants for 14,000 families when the state closed in March, according to Judith Goldiner, a lawyer in charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at the Legal Aid Society.
And protesters worried that landlords suing tenants for rent called on the government to “write off the rent” in the Brooklyn Housing Court on Thursday, and questioned how reopening housing courts would handle evictions. New York City has blocked commissioners from proceeding with evictions under existing judicial guidelines.
Cuomo spokeswoman Caitlin Girouard said Cuomo’s order gives courts and litigants “leeway” to stay deadlines on civil lawsuits.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday called for increased federal support for housing assistance and urged the state to protect households facing evictions ahead of the pandemic. He asked the state to authorize payment plans for tenants.
More than 3.3 million New Yorkers have filed for unemployment since March 14, according to the latest state data. That includes 1.6 million in New York City alone and over 440,000 in Long Island.
New York initially ended statewide evictions of all tenants in mid-March.
That changed in May, when New York City limited the moratorium to those qualified for unemployment or who couldn’t pay rent because of COVID-19.
New York launched a federally-funded $ 100 million program in mid-July to provide rent relief to applicants who applied before August 6.