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Gov. Kathy Hochul Confirms That New York's Eviction Moratorium Ends Saturday

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Karen DeWitt
/
WXXI News
A few dozen protesters blocked off one of the entrances to the State Capitol and protested the Jan. 15 end of the state's eviction moratorium.

Protesters rallying against the end of New York’s eviction moratorium blocked one of the entrances to the State Capitol, as Governor Kathy Hochul confirmed that the tenant protection law will expire in less than five days, on January 15th.

A few dozen tenant advocates with the group Housing Justice for All braved Tuesday’s cold temperatures to rally outside the State Capitol. They barricaded one of the entrances to the building with tables, chairs and other furniture that they say could end up on sidewalks, along with renters, if the state does not enact new tenant protections before the eviction moratorium ends on Saturday.

Genevieve Rand of Ithaca says a measure known as the “Good Cause” eviction bill would protect as many as 4 million New Yorkers from rent gouging and arbitrary evictions. It’s already in effect in four cities in New York, including Albany.

We need to pass good cause now,” Rand said. “There are dozens, if not hundreds, of legislators who are ready to vote for this bill today.”

They worry that without protections in place, the end of the moratorium will trigger a deluge of evictions in the middle of the winter and during a coronavirus surge.

But with the legislature set to adjourn for the week on Wednesday, it seems unlikely the bills could pass in time.

Governor Hochul at the end of August extended the moratorium, begun in 2020, for another four and half months. Under its rules, tenants had to submit a hardship declaration to prevent an eviction proceeding from moving forward. Landlords were still able to evict tenants who are creating health and safety hazards or intentionally damaging property.

Hochul says she understands the growing anxiety, but says it will not be renewed.

(It) is concluding very shortly,” Hochul said Tuesday during a COVID-19 briefing in Manhattan.

According to the National Equity Atlas, a research group based at the University of Southern California, nearly 600,000 New York households remain behind on their rent, for a total of $1.9 billion. Some are waiting for federal and state subsidies to be distributed, while many either did not apply for the programs or applied directly to their landlords for help.

Hochul says the Emergency Assistance Rental Program portal, which closed in November after exhausting its $2.4 billion in federal funds, as to reopen at 10 p.m. January 11th. A court ordered that the portal be reactivated, after the Legal Aid Society brought a lawsuit against the closure.

The governor says tenants who apply will have their evictions stayed for a short time. But she warns that the program still lacks funds, despite a request that the federal government shift to New York money from other states that have not used their allotment.

“We asked the Department of the Treasury for over $978 million, to come to New York to help our backlog,” Hochul said. “That money, despite efforts, resulted in $27 million. So that’s not going to get us over the finish line.”

Hochul, who says she finds the federal government’s failure to act “very frustrating,” says she’s written a letter, also signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom, to ask for more help.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment and interviews newsmakers. Karen previously worked for WINS Radio, New York, and has written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life and the Albany newsweekly Metroland.