Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (Excerpts from Legislative Column)
The Legislature reconvened in Albany on Wednesday in order to extend the state’s moratorium on evictions. The Special Session, which concluded after many New Yorkers had gone to sleep, was needed to extend the state’s misguided eviction moratorium until January 15, 2022. The bill itself is almost as flawed as the process that led up to its passage.
Only seven states in the country are still forcing landlords to operate under an eviction moratorium. Four additional months (at a minimum) of “cancelling rent” here in New York comes only after Albany dysfunction and Democrats’ delays held up $2.3 billion in federal rental assistance funding. The funding from Washington was approved in January, but the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) did not begin to get money out the door until this summer.
Had OTDA simply done its job, the impetus for this week’s chaotic and secretive session would never have existed in the first place.
Instead, landlords facing enormous financial pressure to pay their mortgages, taxes and utility bills will continue to shoulder those costs without duly-owed rent. Under the extended moratorium, landlords can only recover existing back rent if they agree not to evict tenants for another 12 months. Simply put, participation in the ERAP program triggers an eviction moratorium all on its own. The state’s small-property owners are damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
Why I Voted “Yes” to Extend
the Eviction Moratorium
By New York State Assembly Member Stefani L. Zinerman
Helping constituents to stay in their homes and receive the assistance they need to pay rent and for others who invested in property to avoid foreclosure is of paramount importance to me. So there wasn’t a doubt that I would vote yes on the bill, especially as the extension came with an increase in funding for the Rental Assistance program by $150M ($250M total).
However, I am genuinely dismayed by the fact that a state agency in the 21st century was unable to distribute the allocated funds to the landlords and tenants in a timely matter.
As such, I am calling on State Assembly and Senate to hold a joint hearing to demand answers regarding OTDA’s poor rollout of the pandemic relief funds. They must improve their internal systems so that constituents receive the assistance they need and the legislature isn’t forced into voting for another moratorium in January.