New report from the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD), a coalition of nonprofit housing organizations, shows New York City landlords are pursuing evictions at nearly four times the tenant rate neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19.
The data, compiled from state records, shows that eight of the ten postal codes with the highest rate of eviction deposits are in the Bronx, the other two in Queens and Staten Island.
Here in Brooklyn, the zip codes facing the most eviction requests are 11213, 11225, 11226, 11203 and 11208, covering parts of Crown Heights, Flatbush and East New York. The neighborhoods most affected by this trend are home primarily to people of color and essential workers, many of whom have lost their jobs as a direct result of the pandemic.
Thousands of people at risk of homelessness
With the city’s moratorium on evictions set to expire on May 1, thousands of New Yorkers are at risk of being evicted from their homes. Despite the statewide pause on evictions, homeowners were still able to file new cases.
According to the ANHD, New York homeowners have sued more than 32,000 households for an average of $ 8,150 since the start of the pandemic. In addition to these new filings, more than 170,000 existing eviction cases were suspended in March 2020, bringing the total number of New York State tenants facing eviction to at least 222,135 upon expiration of the moratorium. Countless more are at risk of deportation.
“We can expect to see tens of thousands more cases in the coming months,” said Lucy Block, research and policy associate at ANHD and author of the report. BK reader. “Many homeowners are waiting for eviction protections to expire.”
Aid may be on its way with the state budget due on April 1 (although some believe a budget on time is unlikely). After the recent passage of the $ 1.9 trillion federal stimulus package, New York could see up to $ 2.3 billion in federal assistance for housing assistance.
NYC should not ‘over-legislate’
An effective plan for using those funds is imperative, Block said, as the city’s rent debt estimates are as high as $ 2 billion.
“This money has to get to the tenants and it will have a huge impact. The question is how do they get to these tenants and what the barriers to access will be – if the people who need the help most will get it. ”
One concern is whether undocumented New Yorkers, who missed previous stimulus checks and pandemic unemployment assistance, will be able to access rent relief. Program conditions that would require some form of documentation could again exclude this vulnerable population.
Tenant advocates have expressed concern after the state’s first round of rent relief distributed less than half of the $ 100 million it had available due to severe eligibility restrictions.
“It’s critical not to over-legislate,” Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference, wrote in an op-ed for lohud.com Tuesday. “The reality is that New York City currently has the resources to protect its most vulnerable residents. He just has to be smart enough to use them properly. ”
For Block, rent relief in the incoming state budget is not enough on its own. “We also don’t need evictions to occur or even be initiated while this relief is being distributed,” she said. “It is impossible for the state to provide relief to all tenants who need it by May 1. So if they don’t extend the eviction protection measures, we’re going to see thousands and thousands more cases closed. ”
Without political help, people help themselves
Over the past year, with insufficient state and federal support, tenant organizations, self-help groups and local advocates have fought to protect neighbors facing rent insecurity by raising funds for the housing estate. rent relief and fighting for the support of local leaders. Notably in July, protesters, backed by Equality for Flatbush, gathered to try to stop an illegal eviction in Crown Heights.
Block said these local efforts underscored the need for state-level leadership. “It was a truly amazing example of people mobilizing and protecting their neighbors, but that’s what happens when government fails,” she said.
“We really need our state government to get it right. It’s really scary what’s going to happen if they don’t.
For up-to-date tracking of eviction data, visit the new Right to Counsel NYC site Deportation Crisis Monitor.