In a letter to the governor, 56 legislators, led by State Senator Brian Kavanagh, who chairs the Senate’s Housing Committee, asked Cuomo to issue a new executive order. The lawmakers said they are worried about mass evictions and displacement after the moratorium ends.
“Right now, New Yorkers should not have to worry about their most basic needs, like housing,” the letter reads. “All of their focus should be on the health and safety of their loved ones.”
The letter notes that unlike the governor’s initial executive order, which protected tenants from eviction, his new order puts the onus on the tens of thousands of tenants to prove their need in order to be shielded from eviction.
The result will be a large number of tenants who will be sued in non-payment eviction cases, who will then face intrusive inquiries into their personal financial information.
“This is particularly traumatic for those who recently lost loved ones due to COVID-19 who were the primary breadwinner for their household,” the letter reads, “and who will now be forced to prove the deceased’s financial contributions in housing court.”
The lawmakers estimated that nearly 3,000 households who have currently suspended eviction warrants are at risk of being evicted.
The letter also notes that the new order does not stop landlords from filing holdover eviction cases against tenants. Therefore, landlords who want to evict tenants for anything that isn’t for nonpayment of rent will still be able to do so.
“By opening the door to all these new eviction cases and evictions, the new executive order will quickly take us back to overcrowded housing courts and families facing homelessness,” the legislators wrote, “both of which are guaranteed to endanger individual and public health.”
The group of lawmakers also expressed concern about the Office of Court Administration’s decision to reopen housing court.
They called on Cuomo to immediately pause all non-emergency housing legal proceedings, and to direct New York Civil Courts to stop virtually processing eviction cases.
“This is not the time to ease up on the actions that helped keep New Yorkers out of harm’s way,” Kavanagh said. “We need the governor to amend the extended moratorium before the hosung court reopens.”
“If the state lifts this moratorium, a floodgate will open that will be too difficult to contain and will put hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers at risk of eviction and homelessness,” added State Senator Gustavo Rivera, who chairs the Senate’s Health Committee. “We must prioritize the safety and health of all New Yorkers by fully extending our state’s eviction moratorium and halting all evictions.”