Congressional Democrats representing New York City are urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to “take the necessary actions” within her power to extend the state’s eviction moratorium, which is set to expire at the end of August, according to a letter first obtained by Spectrum News NY1.
In the letter, sent to Hochul on Saturday, the U.S. House lawmakers wrote that, “With the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, the beginning of the school year and continued issues associated with this global pandemic, it is imperative that New Yorkers can stay in their homes.”
New York state has been slow to distribute the rental assistance funding included in recent federal pandemic relief packages. As of Aug. 23, only $203 million of the roughly $2 trillion allocated for New York has been paid out, according to state data. Another $600 million has been obligated.
“An extension of the eviction moratorium would allow for the hundreds of thousands of eligible households to apply for [the Emergency Rental Assistance Program] and receive payments to bring them up to date on their rent while keeping them in their homes,” the letter states.
Hochul, who took office on Tuesday, has already promised to speed up the distribution of the aid.
New York has the biggest share of renter households in the United States, according to the letter.
The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, and is also signed by Reps. Nydia Velazquez, Ritchie Torres, Carolyn Maloney, Mondaire Jones, Gregory Meeks, Grace Meng, Adriano Espaillat, Yvette Clarke, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, Kathleen Rice, and Jerry Nadler.
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Biden administration’s latest iteration of a temporary ban on evictions at the national level, enacted earlier this month. Hochul blasted the ruling as “appalling and insensitive.”
Hochul on Friday said that she is in talks with state legislative leaders to call a special session to address the expiring moratorium in New York.
A vote extending the ban could be held after the state's moratorium officially lapses, but that is not expected to have a major affect on tenants at risk of eviction, a source told Spectrum News.
In a separate letter sent last week to Majority Leader Charles Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, several New York Democrats joined with congressional colleagues in urging Congress to act in light of the Supreme Court ruling.
However, Congress is out of town on August recess, and any legislative action on an extension faces steep odds in the evenly split U.S. Senate.
In a statement responding to the court ruling, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president “is once again calling on all entities that can prevent evictions - from cities and states to local courts, landlords, Cabinet Agencies - to urgently act to prevent evictions.”
A month ago, several progressives from the New York delegation - including Ocasio-Cortez, Bowman, and Jones - participated in a protest on the steps of the U.S. House, calling for an extension of the federal ban on evictions which was set to sunset at the end of July.
The Biden administration ultimately instituted a more limited ban, focused on areas with high coronavirus transmission. That moratorium was the one knocked down by the court.