Call for end to winter evictions

Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie outside Brooklyn Housing Court.
Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie outside Brooklyn Housing Court.
Courtesy Office of Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie

Standing outside of Brooklyn Housing Court, Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie (D-Central Brooklyn) was joined last Thursday by tenant and housing justice advocates in calling for passage of the Winter Moratorium on Evictions Act.

The bill – sponsored by Myrie, who represents the 20th Senate District in Brooklyn, and Assemblymember Anna Kelles (D-Ithaca) – would block evictions between Nov. 1 and April 15 each year.

“If it’s too cold to cut the heat, it’s too cold to be out on the street,” said Myrie, whose grandmother hailed from Jamaica. “We’ve seen over the past few years how preventing evictions is not simply a matter of tenants’ rights; it’s integral to public health and safety.

“In the midst of a homelessness and housing affordability crisis in this city and state, stopping eviction proceedings during the winter months is an important step towards housing justice for all,” he added.

The press conference also featured two tenants who are currently facing eviction proceedings in Brooklyn.

“It is imperative to hold landlords accountable for wrongdoing,” said Redoneva Andrews, a tenant leader with Flatbush Tenant Coalition. “I believe it’s unfair for my landlord to drag me in court for non-payment when he has tons of rent-impairing violations that he doesn’t give a crap about.

“Judges give slumlords the power to treat tenants like garbage,” she added. “This is why we need universal RTC and a winter moratorium for all.”

“Respect low-income people and stop all court cases from moving forward and evicting people and their families, who are losing their homes,” said Fidele Albert, a tenant leader with Flatbush Tenant Coalition, Crown Heights Tenant Union and Brooklyn Eviction Defense. “Say NO to more homelessness and YES to abolishing and banning winter evictions forever. Stopping evictions saves lives. Statewide Right To Counsel must also be passed!”

Throughout the pandemic, Myrie said universal eviction moratoria have proven to be an effective tool at keeping tenants securely housed, preventing homelessness, and protecting tenants from exposure-related health problems and death.

“The well-documented and devastating consequences of homelessness are exacerbated by cold weather,” he said. “Unsheltered individuals have an increased risk of developing exposure-related health problems, particularly in cold weather.”

The State senator said NYC Department of Homeless Services reported that 613 homeless individuals died between July 2019 and June 2020 in New York City.

He said individuals experiencing homelessness accounted for at least 25 percent of all cold-related hospitalizations between 2003 and 2015.