City leaders are calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo to extend the eviction moratorium, due to expire tonight, to protect thousands of vulnerable New York families from homelessness.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams joined The Legal Aid Society and a number of the city’s faith leaders to ask for the moratorium to be extended, saying the pandemic had led to compounding crises and both long and short term trauma for New Yorkers.
“We have a moral obligation to prevent what pain we can,” Williams said. “Yet New York’s eviction moratorium is set to expire tonight. Governor Cuomo has the power to stop the displacement of more than 14,000 households, and the crisis that mass evictions will cause.”
Williams said the eyes of New Yorkers and of history were on Cuomo and he implored him to do the right thing.
According to the New York City Department of Social Services, more than 14,000 households received a warrant of eviction before the pandemic this past March, making them vulnerable to possible City Marshal enforcement when the moratorium expires.
Although the Tenant Safe Harbor Act protects New Yorkers who can prove a COVID-19-related financial hardship, over 200,000 New York City households are not covered by the bill, including the 14,000 families across the city who have current warrants of eviction pending against them, The Legal Aid Society said.
Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society Judith Goldiner said New York’s neighboring states had protections in place to keep families in their homes that extended beyond what Albany had in place. “We are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to follow suit by extending the eviction moratorium immediately and indefinitely.”
Joined by a group of faith and community leaders, The Legal Aid Society released a statement Wednesday calling on Cuomo to take immediate action, “to prevent the human and economic cost of eviction and homelessness and prevent hunger.”
The statement said action was essential to helping low-income New Yorkers devastated by the pandemic, disproportionately Black and Brown New Yorkers.
The Interfaith Center of New York Executive Director Rev. Dr. Chloe Breyer said there were steps the governor should take now to alleviate the suffering of New Yorkers whose livelihoods, housing, health and family stability was hanging in the balance after COVID-19.
“He can stop thousands of people from becoming homeless by extending the eviction moratorium,” she said. “He can cut the red tape on other forms of assistance that put food on the table for families. He can use his power to make life better for New Yorkers who are hurting in these unprecedented times.”
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, the spiritual leader of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, said it was, “unconscionable to even consider evictions in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis.”
“The eviction moratorium must be extended. We New Yorkers must stand for the values that make us great, to care for the most vulnerable, to protect the weak and to work every day to redeem our broken world.”
Along with The Legal Aid Society, the leaders demanded the governor immediately extend the eviction moratorium, remove barriers to accessing existing rental assistance, suspend the 45-day Safety Net Assistance waiting period and modifying income and resource rules to ensure New Yorkers with no income, or countable income at or under the poverty level, have access to cash assistance.
In the letter to the governor, the leaders said: “The State of New York must live up to its fundamental promise to aid those in need and in so doing likewise help promote the public’s health. We see the fulfillment of this promise as a moral imperative.”
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