Housing advocates and lawmakers are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation that would expand protections for tenants before July's rent is due.

The bill was passed by the Legislature in May and was delivered to Cuomo on June 18. Known as the NYS Tenant Safe Harbor Act, the measure would prohibit landlords from evicting tenants who lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses have slowly been allowed to start opening back up, which means the return to work for many New Yorkers. 

But the unemployment rate in the state was 14.5 percent in May, which means although many people might be starting to receive a paycheck again, there is a concern of past unpaid bills accrued over the last few months.

“More than 1 million renters in New York have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic," state Senator Brad Hoylman said. "If we don’t take further action, we could be facing a massive rental apocalypse by the end of the summer. The Tenant Safe Harbor Act would help financially struggling tenants stay in their homes and avoid evictions." 

Advocates are supportive of that assessment, pointing to the still-high unemployment rate thta is affecting primarily lower-income people.

"With unemployment rates skyrocketing, we must protect the most vulnerable of tenants in New York who will not be able to pay rent during this crisis," Judith Goldiner, attorney-in-charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit of The Legal Aid Society said. "More than 100,000 New Yorkers are at risk of imminent of eviction and The Legal Aid Society calls on Governor Andrew Cuomo to enact this legislation to ensure that these families are able to stay in their homes.”