New York lawmakers were preparing to vote Wednesday to extend an eviction moratorium for tenants in arrears due to the pandemic as nearly $2.3 billion in rental resources go unused.
The moratorium is also expected to be changed after the Supreme Court scrapped part of the law last month.
Governor Kathy Hochul called on lawmakers to return with a view to delaying the evictions until January 15.
The previous eviction moratorium in New York, which included foreclosure protection for property owners, expired Tuesday.
The extension is also intended to provide more time to distribute the approximately $2.3 billion in primarily federal aid allocated to the Emergency Rental Assistance program.
The program was approved in April and opened to applications on June 1, but only $203 million of those funds had been distributed by August 23.
According to estimates from the US Treasury Department, 28 percent of rent arrears who applied to the program were still waiting for a response, while 70 percent had yet to apply.
New York lawmakers prepared to vote Wednesday to extend the state’s moratorium on evictions. Pictured: Protesters in New York City on Aug. 31 called on Governor Kathy Hochul to extend moratorium
Hochul (pictured Tuesday) convened a special session of the legislature on Wednesday to extend the moratorium
In her plea for the session to be convened, Hochul said she believed a number of New Yorkers could become homeless if the evictions continued.
“We are not going to exacerbate what is already a crisis in terms of the homelessness problem,” she said.
“We are not going to allow people who through no fault of their own to earn an income are unable to pay and are at risk of eviction.”
According to a survey by the US Census Bureau, as many as 700,000 or 21 percent of tenants in New York are rent arrears, with a total debt of nearly $2.3 billion.
As many as 21 percent, or 700,000 New York tenants, are in arrears on rent payments, according to the US Census Bureau
California and New York lead the country with the most rent arrears
State Senate lawmakers discussed the bill Wednesday. They planned to amend it after the Supreme Court lifted part of the previous moratorium
New York follows only California, which has more than 750,000 people behind on rent, with a total of more than $2.8 billion in debt.
New York lawmakers are also expected to change the way the moratorium works.
In an Aug. 12 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court repealed part of the law that allowed tenants to interrupt eviction proceedings simply by submitting a form declaring they had experienced pandemic-related hardship.
The court said landlords should have the opportunity to challenge those hardships in court.
The new bill would allow landlords to challenge in court applications for tenants they believe have not experienced economic hardship.
However, landlord groups and state Republicans say the change doesn’t go far enough.
The extension also aims to give the state more time to distribute the approximately $2.3 billion in rental assistance funds it has allocated.
“We are going to ask our attorney to file a motion to enforce the Supreme Court order and suspend the new legislation,” Joseph Strasburg of the Rent Stabilization Association, a landlord group, told IPS. CBS 2.
“The problem is we have a lot of real estate owners, many of whom are not wealthy. They are middle-income people. They are police officers, entrepreneurs, mothers and fathers, military veterans, who have not received rent for almost two years,” Secretary of State Rob Ortt said at the agency.
In a separate ruling on Aug. 17, the Supreme Court overturned a federal moratorium on evictions, which also expired Tuesday.
Hochul has vowed to get the money out faster.