Republicans in the state Assembly are calling for a special session of the Legislature to align New York's moratorium on evictions for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with the federal government's policy.
The federal eviction ban is set to expire July 31; New York's will end at the end of August.
Republicans in the Legislature have been critical of the extension of the moratorium in New York for much of the summer, pointing to the effect this will have on small landlords who have struggled to absorb the lack of rent.
The pandemic last year ballooned unemployment in New York as economic activity ground largely to a halt. The state's economy shed up to 2 million jobs. A moratorium on evictions for those demonstrated a financial hardship due to the pandemic was put in place and extended multiple times.
But restrictions meant to halt the spread of the virus have been loosened after a drop in cases and hospitalizations this spring as more people were vaccinated in New York. At the same time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared an end to the state of emergency to put in place more than a year ago.
But the moratorium on evictions was set in state law.
“In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, temporarily halting evictions made sense, but with the state of emergency in New York now lifted, the state’s current moratorium on evictions is outdated and completely unnecessary," Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said. “Small landlords across the state have been struggling for more than a year to make mortgage payments, pay taxes and invest in upgrades themselves, and can ill-afford for the eviction moratorium to continue for another six weeks. To do right by them, the Legislature must reconvene for a special session to bring New York state’s guidance in line with the federal government.”
Republicans hold minority status in both the state Senate and Assembly in Albany, dimming the chances of a special session to address the eviction moratorium in the coming days.
Meanwhile, a special fund with federal aid was established to aid tenants and landlords who were affected by the financial fallout of the crisis. But the money has been slow to get out the door.
“Despite pressure from our conference, the state waited months to finally establish a program to assist renters, housing providers and small-business owners who faced severe financial losses as a result of the pandemic," Barclay said. "Even more glaring, we’re learning New York is only one of four states that have not distributed any of its rent relief funds. The repeated delays are inexcusable at every level. The Legislature must take action now.”