New York – Today, the Office of Court Administration (OCA) issued a new order that extends the universal eviction moratorium until at least October 1, 2020 for all New Yorkers. All cases filed after March 16th will continue to be suspended until further notice. This means there are no evictions in NY, for any tenant for any reason before October 1. This provides much needed relief for New Yorkers to stay in their homes.
However, it’s not enough. We estimate that at least 1.5 million New Yorkers owe over $2.2 billion in rent. We are calling on the state legislature to pass the Emergency Housing Stability and Displacement Prevention Act (Myrie S8667/Reyes A10827), which would extend the universal moratorium for the length of the crisis plus an additional year.
Unfortunately the order also mandates that eviction cases filed on or before March 16 should move forward, either virtually or in person. We condemn the court’s decision to move these cases forward. Evictions are not just about the final result of a case but also about the stress and anxiety of fighting to save one’s home. No one should have to fight to save their home during a pandemic. There is no good venue in which eviction cases can move forward. In person hearings require that tenants risk their health to save their homes and virtual proceedings require tenants to give up their due process rights to save their homes. All options are unacceptable. Worse still, NYC housing court issued an order saying that tenants who fail to attend, virtually or in person, can be held in contempt and even have an eviction order issued against them when they’re not there.
Thanks to Right to Counsel, tenants in NYC will be able to have legal representation in most cases, but tenants outside of NYC without RTC will not have the same protections. No case, anywhere in the state, should move forward without Right to Counsel.
The Housing Justice for All and Right to Counsel NYC Coalitions celebrate the extension of the moratorium and suspension of new eviction cases, while we also condemn the court’s decision to move certain cases forward. The goal of the courts must be justice, not expediency.
We call on the New York State Legislature to act swiftly by October 1st and pass our 3 bill legislative package that will enact a real universal eviction moratorium for at least a year, cancel rent and mortgages, and re-house homeless families.