Hochul reconvenes state Legislature with aim to extend eviction moratorium to January 2022

Sarah Taddeo
New York State Team

With hours to go before New York’s eviction moratorium expired Tuesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced she would reconvene the state Legislature on Wednesday to attend to a number of pressing issues, including extending the moratorium to January 2022. 

The state’s moratorium halted evictions as a public health measure related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was extended in May to allow more time for the federal Emergency Rental Assistance program to kick in. 

That $2.7 billion program faced a logjam of 160,000 applications in mid-July, but by the end of August had handed out or obligated more than $800 million to tenants and landlords. 

Supreme Court blocks Biden's COVID-19 eviction moratorium in blow to real estate groups

But it’s not going fast enough, Hochul said, and New Yorkers shouldn’t have to be worried about being turned out of their homes.

“We are not going to allow people who, through no fault of their own, lost income and are not able to pay and are facing eviction,” Hochul said. “We’re not going to abandon our neighbors in need, especially since the state of New York failed in its responsibility to get the money that was allocated by Congress out to people in need earlier this summer.”

More protections for tenants, landlords:NY's eviction moratorium is expiring. What other protections are available?

To that end, she summoned the Legislature back at noon Wednesday, with a primary order of business being to extend New York’s moratorium until Jan. 15, 2022, she said. The session will also address the open meetings law and the process of legally producing and distributing cannabis in New York.  

The eviction moratorium has faced pushback from New York landlords who say it hamstrings their ability to collect rent and survive as business owners. 

Housing advocates protest outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office on the eviction moratorium in New York on Aug. 4.

New York is taking their situations into account, Hochul said, and wants to help them come out of the COVID-19 crisis by providing relief funding as soon as possible. 

“We want the landlords to know that their concerns are front and center,” she said, adding that many New York landlords are small business owners, perhaps with a business on the first floor and a few apartments for rent upstairs. 

“This is really a small-business crisis,” she said. 

Another wrinkle facing the moratorium and its extension is an August Supreme Court ruling that struck down a provision of the measure that allowed tenants to ward off eviction via a form stating financial hardship related to COVID-19. 

More on the Supreme Court ruling:Supreme Court blocks part of NY eviction moratorium. What to know.

The ruling mandated that tenants provide proof of financial hardship during the pandemic, and drew outcry from Hochul and senators supporting the moratorium. 

New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore swears in Kathy Hochul as the first woman to be New York's governor, while her husband, Bill Hochul, holds a Bible during a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony at the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

“I am deeply disappointed in the injunction issued yesterday that invalidates eviction protections for hundreds of thousands of tenants and denies New Yorkers this still necessary public health measure,” Sen. Brian Kavanagh, D-Manhattan, said in a statement Aug. 13. 

But on Tuesday, Hochul said the state’s legal team would work to “identify all the restrictions and shortcomings that were determined by the Supreme Court,” and that more details would be coming as the legislative session gets underway. 

Additionally, the state is planning to take a "SWAT team approach" to address the issue of matching landlords and tenants as they apply for federal rent relief funding in New York, Hochul said. That issue stymied program applications in recent months, slowing the flow of funding. State workers would knock on doors in an attempt to identify the appropriate landlords or tenants and have them fill out necessary paperwork, she said. 

Meanwhile, at the national level, an order staying evictions imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Aug. 3 was struck down by the Supreme Court last week; justices said the CDC didn’t have the legal authority to impose the moratorium, and that Congress would need to pass legislation to continue to halt evictions.

Sarah Taddeo is an enterprise reporter for USA Today Network's New York State Team. Got a story tip or comment? Contact Sarah at STADDEO@Gannett.com or (585) 258-2774. Follow her on Twitter @Sjtaddeo. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Please consider becoming a digital subscriber.