CDC Moratorium Does Little For NY Tenants; Albany Must Act

September 2, 2020

It’s important that health agencies like the CDC are taking emergency action to protect tenants and the public health, when our state politicians have not. It is a sad day for all NYers when the federal administration in Washington outdoes Governor Cuomo and our State elected officials in taking emergency action to protect tenants during this pandemic. The federal order doesn’t go nearly far enough, but it also makes clear the abject failure of leadership in Albany.

We need the state legislature and Governor Cuomo to pass the Emergency Housing Stability and Displacement Prevention Act (Myrie S8667/Reyes A10827) before October 1. This bill extends the Universal Eviction Moratorium for 1 year after the state of the emergency ends, stopping landlord lawsuits, evictions and money judgments. It is the real eviction moratorium that NYers need.

An eviction moratorium is critical right now to prevent mass displacement and homelessness. But the CDC’s moratorium does little for NY tenants except add another layer of confusion for NY tenants. Instead of acknowledging that all evictions are a public health crisis, the CDC offers limited protections for certain tenants.

This moratorium does not protect tenants who are facing eviction for issues unrelated to rent payment; it doesn’t include a prohibition on landlords suing tenants, which is a serious cause of anxiety and stress; it requires that tenants make declarations that many lawyers would never advise a tenant to make when they can still be sued and evicted eventually; and it requires tenants to swear they’ll pay their landlord what little money they have, clearly prioritizing a landlord’s profit over tenants’ basic needs.

Lastly, in NY, the courts are moving pre-covid cases forward first. This, plus the fact that eviction cases generally take more than 4 months to finalize, means that we won’t see evictions from cases started during covid before 2021 anyway, making this moratorium largely meaningless because it’s not long enough.

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In addition to calling on the state to pass the Emergency Housing Stability and Displacement Prevention Act, we’ve also been calling on the Department of Health to: Conduct a full inspection of all courts where evictions happen across the state; Conduct a full investigation and interpret the data on the impact of evictions on public health; Demand that the Office of Court Administration close housing courts and maintain the indefinite and universal moratorium on evictions across the state while this investigation is being conducted. To date, the DOH has failed to act.

The CDC moratorium is a moral failure and a call to action to our state government to do better. We need the state legislature and our Governor Cuomo to pass the Emergency Housing Stability and Displacement Prevention Act (Myrie S8667/Reyes A10827) before October 1.

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