After a cumulatively horrendous year (followed by this past emotionally taxing week), some good news has emerged.
On December 28th, Governor Cuomo finally implemented a legitimate eviction and foreclosure moratorium, known as the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020. Obviously, it’s nowhere near perfect, but it’s far more progress than we’ve seen thus far. Here’s how it works:
- Nearly all evictions and related legal proceedings have been placed on hold until February 26, 2021.
- The hold will continue until May 1, 2021, provided tenants submit a hardship declaration form.
Concerning homeowners (who will thus have less reason to harass and pressure tenants):
- The Act also places all foreclosure proceedings until May 2021 and prevents local governments from attempting a tax lien sale or tax foreclosure until the same date.
- Lending institutions are forbidden from discriminating against property owners seeking credit for reasons such as forclosure proceedings or tax lien sales.
- Property tax breaks for elderly and disabled homeowners (SCHE and DHE respectively) are being carried over from 2020 into 2021.
I want to be totally clear. This much-needed legislation was not the result of some stroke of goodwill from Andrew Cuomo or NYCHA or any other government-affiliated party. Since the beginning of the pandemic, tenant organizers have been hard at work protesting, petitioning, and articulating their needs. Here are a few of the leaders in grassroots efforts towards pandemic housing justice:
- Housing Justice For All
- Crown Heights Tenant Union
- H.O.P.E. Organizers
- Citizen Action of New York
- Met Council on Housing
- NY Communities for Change
These groups, along with several others, demonstrated the impact of empowering community members to take matters of justice into their own hands, particularly when the government is hanging them out to dry. It’s work that they shouldn’t have to do, but their strength and persistence in doing it anyway is, simply put, heroic. I highly recommend supporting any and all of these organizations by learning more about what they do, following them on social media, and donating to help them continue fighting the good fight.
I want to end by pointing out that the way vaccine distribution is currently proceeding provides no guarantee that a moratorium lasting until May is enough to sustain people who may be sick, out of work, or otherwise unable to pay rent. It is certainly a start, but it also should not be considered an extraordinarily monumental move by the NY government. This moratorium will serve as a brief taste of the sort of fair housing policy that ought to be universal and without expiration.
(photo and caption source: https://www.thecity.nyc/2021/1/7/22217235/cuomo-new-york-eviction-moratorium-protections-not-automatic)