New Yorkers unable to pay rent and facing eviction due to the pandemic have been given a reprieve through the end of the year, Gov. Cuomo said Monday.
“As New York continues to fight the pandemic, we want to make sure New Yorkers who are still struggling financially will not be forced from their homes as a result of COVID,” the governor said.
“We are extending the protections of the Safe Harbor Act through Jan. 1 because we want tenants to have fundamental stability in their lives as we recover from this crisis.”
The executive order gives just under 1,000 New Yorkers who were facing eviction on Oct. 1, three months reprieve before they can legally be kicked out of their homes, the Office of Court Administration confirmed.
The total number of people served eviction notices after March 17, classified as “post-pandemic,” stands at 996, according to OCA spokesman Lucian Chalfen.
“We are asking the Governor’s office for further clarifications on the [executive order issued Monday] so we can further guidance,” Chalfen said.
Advocacy groups said Cuomo’s latest order doesn’t go far enough in explaining what will eventually happen to tenants who’ve been unable to make rent since the pandemic began. Nor is it clear how the city’s Housing Court will handle a wave of post-pandemic evictions in the new year.
“The devil is in the details, and we have yet to see an executive order with any specifics. A true moratorium will protect all tenants regardless of circumstance and not include any exemptions that landlords could exploit to drag our clients to court on frivolous grounds,” said Judith Goldiner of the Legal Aid Society.
“New York will still very much be in the midst of a public health crisis come 2021, and relief for tenants must extend well beyond the end of the pandemic.”
Cuomo’s move builds on a March 20 eviction moratorium issued by Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks that covered commercial and residential renters. Since then, the governor and the courts have extended and revised the ban on a month-to-month basis.
Cuomo signed another bill over the summer, protecting tenants unable to pay their rent because of the pandemic. And on Sept. 21, he issued an executive order extending an emergency moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for commercial properties until Oct. 20 — giving business owners a month to prepare for potential eviction.
Millions of New York workers are still reeling from the economic aftershocks of the pandemic.
According to figures from the state’s Labor Department, the Big Apple’s unemployment rate still hovers near 20% — almost twice the national average and five times as high as the city’s jobless rate last summer.
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