(NEW YORK, NY) April 23, 2021: New York’s residential eviction moratorium, which protects thousands of individuals and families, will expire in just seven days. New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) calls on NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, NY State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and NY State Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie to extend the moratorium immediately.
“Keeping people in their homes during COVID has saved countless lives. It’s unfathomable that this moratorium may not be extended while we are still in the throes of this deadly pandemic. New Yorkers are still navigating COVID restrictions that are causing them loss of income and limited job opportunities, which affect their ability to pay back-rent or rent in the immediate future. CDC data are crystal clear that pandemic evictions cause death and serious illness from COVID-19 and eviction moratoria save lives and improve public health.” said Jonathan Fox, Director of the Tenants’ Rights Unit at NYLAG
Available data shows that states that prematurely lifted their eviction moratoria are responsible for an estimated 433,700 cases and 10,700 deaths that could have been avoided. Every day there are thousands of new positive cases in New York, dozens of deaths, and more than 3,300 people are hospitalized with COVID-19. COVID-19 is still a real threat to the millions of unvaccinated New Yorkers.
The agency responsible for the promising rent relief program, which eventually will distribute more than $2.4 billion, has yet to launch the program; no launch date has even been announced. Until New York can ensure the health and safety of its tenant communities—which are disproportionally Black, Indigenous, and other people of color—the eviction moratorium must be extended. Even the current COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 (“CEEFPA”) allows many tenants to be evicted, making it insufficient to protect New Yorkers from sickness and death arising from their housing instability.
A genuine eviction moratorium must be put in place until this state of emergency is over. At the very least, CEEFPA must be extended for a minimum of sixty days, which should allow enough time for the crucial rent relief program to go live. Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, Governor Cuomo, please expand and extend the moratorium—New Yorkers are counting on you.
Founded in 1990, New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) is a leading civil legal services organization combatting economic, racial, and social injustice by advocating for people experiencing poverty or in crisis. Our services include comprehensive, free civil legal services, financial empowerment, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and community partnerships. NYLAG exists because wealth should not determine who has access to justice. We aim to disrupt systemic racism by serving individuals and families whose legal and financial crises are often rooted in racial inequality. NYLAG goes to where the need is, providing services in more than 150 community sites (e.g. courts, hospitals, libraries) and on our Mobile Legal Help Center. During COVID-19, most of our services are virtual to keep our community safe. NYLAG’s staff of 300 impacted the lives of nearly 90,000 people last year.