ALBANY — The Democratic-led state Legislature passed a bill Monday that extended the state’s eviction moratorium until summer’s end in order to provide rental assistance to tenants negatively impacted by job loss or other hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The measure will extend New York’s current moratorium placed on residential and commercial evictions from May 1 to August 31, 2020.
It takes effect immediately upon being signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Tenants will have to file a “hardship declaration” with the state, stating they are unable to pay rent due to lost income, increased costs tied to the pandemic or if they can prove moving would pose a health risk either to themselves or another household member.
“Ensuring that everyone has access to a stable, safe place to live is always a priority, but it’s never been more important than it is now,” said the state Senate sponsor Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan).
“We also urgently need the State to get the relief programs we’ve enacted for tenants and landlords, homeowners, and small businesses up and running as soon as possible, so people can get the financial assistance they need.”
But Republicans and other critics argue the state should focus on getting rent relief dollars allocated by Washington out faster, rather than pass legislation that could potentially undercut small landlords also impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
“The extension passed today severely limits the ability of already struggling small property owners to recover from the economic damage the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. This unsustainable, short-sighted policy will lead to a drastic decline in affordable housing options as landlords face foreclosure or stop renting altogether,” state Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R-Syracuse) said in a statement.
“We are past the initial period of economic hardship that warranted the need for this moratorium. At this stage, allowing tenants to simply ignore rent for another four months will do more harm than good to every part of the housing sector. Tenants deserve the benefit of the doubt in cases of emergency, but today’s vote only prolongs the pain for housing providers whose interests and experiences have been completely ignored.”
The state allocated roughly $2.4 billion in rental assistance — primarily comprised of federal funding — in the recently passed $212 billion budget in early April.
But those dollars have yet to flow as the state’s disbursement mechanism is still being worked out and likely won’t be completed until the end of May, said state Division of Budget Director Rob Mujica Monday during a Manhattan-based press conference.
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