Cuomo extends eviction, foreclosure protections to 2021

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday announced he will extend the eviction moratorium — set to expire Oct. 1 — to next year, continuing protections for tenants as well as homeowners who have been unable to pay rent and mortgage during the public health crisis.

Cuomo said he will sign an executive order extending the eviction moratorium, known as the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, to Jan. 1. It also protects homeowners from foreclosure for nonpayment of mortgages during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I want people to have fundamental stability in their lives," Cuomo said during a press call on Monday.

The extended protection builds on an extension Cuomo approved recently to protect commercial tenants and property owners from eviction or foreclosure. Protection for commercial property owners and tenants extends to Oct. 20.

Affordable housing advocates have called for the moratorium to be extended at least until the end of the year as New Yorkers still struggle to cover rent. Unemployment remains high in the Empire State and has impacted communities of color the hardest, while the virus has also ravaged these communities disproportionately.

Sen. Brian Kavanagh, who chairs the Senate's Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development, has introduced legislation that would extend the moratorium until Jan. 20, but it has yet to be acted on by the Legislature.

Meanwhile, New Yorkers who applied for a slice of the $100 million made available to assist those struggling to pay rent slowly began receiving that assistance earlier this month, but how much is ultimately provided and whether it covers a tenant's payment obligation is unclear. The state Division of Homes and Community Renewal has been silent on the status of the rental assistance program aside from confirming over 90,000 applications had been received.

Housing Justice for All and the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition later Monday blasted the eviction moratorium extension, noting that the "severely flawed Safe Harbor Act" does not protect all New Yorkers.

"He is leaving millions of New Yorkers vulnerable to eviction in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuomo's action today is arguably weaker than the federal eviction moratorium announced earlier this month," the affordable housing advocacy groups said in an emailed statement. "On Oct. 1, many eviction cases can still move forward because Cuomo still has not enacted a truly universal eviction moratorium that protects all tenants across New York."

The advocates say the protections are very narrow and exclude tenants who are undocumented workers or gig-economy workers because of the burden of proving financial hardship during the public health crisis.

"Many of the most vulnerable tenants in New York have no way to prove financial hardship to their landlords, so they remain vulnerable to eviction," the groups said. "Cuomo has done nothing to reduce their risk of getting evicted."

In turn, the advocates called for passage of proposed legislation that would extend the moratorium for a full year beyond the end of the coronavirus crisis along with measures that would help alleviate the financial burdens New Yorkers face from past due rent and mortgage payments.

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Foreclosures Law and regulation Coronavirus Distressed Multifamily New York Andrew Cuomo
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