NEW YORK CITY — More than 200,000 eviction cases are pending in New York City alone in housing court, with many thousands more across the tri-state.
Over the weekend New York’s eviction moratorium lapsed. Monday lawmakers were scrambling to put it back in place as tenant’s rights groups and landlords are demanded a more sweeping plan for dealing with this eviction cliff moving forward.
“The little money we have goes to food and medicine and things like that,” said renter Yamilex Martinez.
Martinez has been unable to afford her rent since the beginning of the pandemic. She said her landlord in the Bronx has been aggressive in trying to push tenants out using civil court and intimidation tactics even with the eviction moratorium.
With wave of evictions feared, lawmakers push for tenant representation
“He knows none of us have the money,” Martinez said.
She was among tenants’ rights activists who rallied near City Hall today demanding more affordable housing and a roll back of stabilized rent rate. They also want everyone running for mayor to pledge to freeze rent for their first term as mayor.
Monday in Albany lawmakers are expected to extend the eviction moratorium until the end of August.
“They are thinking of one group and hurting another,” said Maria Vinciguerra, who’s parents rent part of their home.
Vinciguerra and other small landlords believe some tenants are taking advantage of the continued moratorium. She said her parents’ renter was placed to be evicted before the pandemic, and has made no effort to pay.
But landlords, particularly small landlords, said continuing to extend the moratorium is not a viable long term solution. Many are going broke themselves unable to pay the mortgage and taxes.
New York state did create a more than $2 billion rent relief fund in the budget. Republican lawmakers, who are growing increasingly critical of extending the moratorium, have for weeks been saying the Cuomo administration needs to start distributing this money.
The governor said Monday the program would be up and running by the end of May. However, some landlords, like the Vinciguerras, don’t even want to take money from the fund, because it would require them to keep their troublesome tenant for another year.
“These aren’t big corporate landlords, these are small landlords,” Vinciguerra said. “My parents sacrificed their lives for this home.”
Albany is considering separate legislation that would give landlords access to funds directly without tenants having to apply for the money, but nothing formal has moved ahead.