Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended New York’s eviction moratorium saying ‘there will be no evictions as long as we are in the middle of the epidemic’, one day after protesters stormed the Brooklyn offices of landlord attorneys calling for rent to be canceled in the Big Apple.
Cuomo signed the 30-day extension of the executive order Wednesday night, banning landlords from turfing tenants out of their homes through September 4.
This came after dozens of New Yorkers marched through the streets of Brooklyn Wednesday morning before entering two landlord attorney firms buildings and Brooklyn Borough Hall calling for a ban on evictions and cancellation of rent ahead of the residential eviction moratorium’s expiration at midnight.
However, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared to be unaware of the state’s extension in his Thursday morning press conference in which he demanded action from Albany and vowed that the city would support residents he claimed now face the threat of eviction.
Cuomo announced his eleventh-hour move to provide much-needed relief to cash-strapped New Yorkers Thursday, hours after the eviction moratorium expired putting 14,000 families at risk of homelessness.
The governor said he will keep extending it for as long as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the livelihoods of New Yorkers.
‘I signed the law, and the law is clear,’ he said in a media conference call.
‘Until when? Until I say COVID is over.’
De Blasio seemed unaware of the extension when he delivered his own press conference Thursday where he urged the state government to send a lifeline to New Yorkers unable to pay their rent.
In the latest in a long line of discrepancies between the two leaders, de Blasio said the state needed to step in to help the 1.3 million New Yorkers who have filed for unemployment insurance since the pandemic began back in March.
‘It’s not their fault,’ de Blasio said of renters struggling to make ends meet.
‘They didn’t ask for a global pandemic. But if you don’t have a paycheck, what are you going to do… If you don’t have a source of income, how the hell are you gonna pay the rent?’
He called on the state ‘to create a new system to allow those who simply cannot pay for lack of income to be able to have a payment plan model that will take them into next year, allow them to pay the rent over time when they finally have resources.’
De Blasio went on to tell New Yorkers facing an eviction warrant to call the city on 311 for help – something that applies to no one under Cuomo’s extension.
While the mayor appeared confused by the state’s position on evictions, he added that the long-term solution must come from the White House.
‘The best solution resides in Washington DC,’ de Blasio added.
‘Rental assistance for everyone who has lost their job, so they can keep their home and landlords have the money to keep up their buildings.
‘But we’re in such a broken situation in Washington right now.’
De Blasio himself has fared well from the rental market amid the pandemic, raking in $9,000-a-month from three rental properties in Park Slope, Brooklyn, all the while cash-strapped New Yorkers have struggled to pay rent.
Cuomo’s last minute move granted thousands of New York tenants a reprieve from being thrown out of their homes – a danger that was about to become a reality from midnight Wednesday.
Renters unable to pay rent due to financial hardships sparked by the pandemic and who missed payments between March 7 and the full reopening of their county would still have been protected from eviction even after the moratorium expired under the Tenant Safe Harbor Act.
However, thousands of tenants would not have been protected, including those whose landlords brought eviction orders against them prior to the pandemic.
The moratorium put these proceedings on hold but, once expired, these can be carried out.
This meant more than 14,000 households were at risk of homelessness, according to Legal Aid Society.
Another 200,000 New York City rentals were also at risk, for example households facing eviction for non-payment related reasons, the legal services provider warned.
And even tenants protected by the Tenant Safe Harbor Act could have been taken to court by their landlords to recover missed rent payments.
Cuomo’s extension will be reviewed and confirmed by the Office of Court Administration later today.
Swathes of masked protesters gathered in downtown Brooklyn Wednesday daytime to rally against the moratorium expiring.
The demonstration started outside Brooklyn Eviction Court before marching through the streets and storming past security and police to enter two landlord attorney firms buildings as well as Brooklyn Borough Hall, where New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh is based.
People chanted ‘no landlords, no cops, all evictions gotta stop’ as they gathered in the city.
Inside the Stern & Stern and Slochowsky & Slochowsky real estate law firm offices, dozens of protesters were seen holding banners aloft, before they moved onto Brooklyn Borough Hall where they marched up the stairs.
Many held placards reading ‘shut down evictions’ and ‘cancel rent’, while several signs called out de Blasio and Cuomo urging them to extend protections to tenants in the city.
Crowds gathered again Thursday outside New York City Civil Court for a protest calling on New York to cancel rent.
Cuomo first issued a statewide executive order banning landlords from evicting tenants amid the coronavirus pandemic from March through to June, before extending it until August.
New Yorkers were especially hard hit by the pandemic as the state – once the virus epicenter – endured a longer and stricter lockdown than others and thousands lost their jobs overnight when businesses shuttered back in March.
The problem has been exacerbated further by the reality that jobless Americans are now losing out on the $600-per-week enhanced unemployment benefits from the federal government.
Stark research global advisory firm Stout Risius Ross last month found that 40 percent of American renters were unable to pay their rent.
This figure rose even higher in the Big Apple, where 46 percent could not afford to pay rent.