Caribbean pols commend passage of eviction moratorium

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New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Associated Press / Frank Franklin II, file

Caribbean legislators on Tuesday commended New York State Legislature’s passage of an emergency measure to stop New York’s looming eviction crisis.

The bill, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has agreed to sign into law, takes effect immediately and keeps tenants in their homes.

“I want to commend the state Legislature for passing a bill that will protect tenants struggling in a public health and economic crisis from eviction, and thank the advocates who have spent months fighting for the true blanket moratorium that New Yorkers across our city and state needed,” said New York City Public Advocate, Jumaane Williams.

“For renters and owners alike, the lack of security or clarity has been debilitating, and passing this legislation is both morally imperative and economically vital,” added Williams.

But he said “as crucial as this emergency measure is, it may ultimately be only a delay, not a prevention, of a looming mass eviction crisis if we do not continue to adapt and provide aid throughout this crisis and beyond.

“Now the governor – who has been able to circumvent the legislature for months and has recently weakened his own ‘moratorium’ – must immediately sign this bill into law and provide security and relief for New Yorkers before their next rent check is due,” Williams added.

Sen. Zellnor Myrie, who represents the 20th Senatorial District in Brooklyn, said the bill’s passage is “an important first step toward long-term housing justice for all.”

Myrie, whose grandmother hailed from Jamaica, said the Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act “stops the clock on all new and pending evictions for 60 days, and protects renters facing financial distress as a result of the pandemic.

“Tenants who have lost income or employment, have increased family or healthcare expenses, or cannot afford to move, will be protected from eviction until May,” he said. “Renters at risk of eviction will be provided a simplified, multi-lingual form to attest to their hardship to their landlord and the court.”

Myrie said the new law will also support small property owners facing financial hardship by preventing liens and foreclosures, and automatically renewing certain property tax benefits for seniors and people with disabilities.

“This legislation gives tenants the tools they need to halt eviction proceedings through the pandemic winter ahead of us, but our work is not done,” he said. “I will continue fighting on behalf of renters and small property owners, and working to ensure that our existing crisis is not worsened by a tidal wave of evictions and foreclosures.

“Today’s legislation is welcome news for tenants and homeowners facing difficulty making ends meet during the pandemic,” Myrie added. “I’m grateful to my partners and the advocacy community for making this bill possible.”

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, said she voted to extend housing protections to the New Yorkers under the sweeping COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (A11181/S9114), which she co-sponsored.

Among other things, Bichotte, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, said the Act also, among other things, “makes it more difficult for banks to foreclose on small property owners, including those whose tenants have defaulted on rent payments.

“Millions of New Yorkers are rent-burdened, particularly in the city” said Bichotte, chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party. “I hear from constituents facing housing insecurities almost every day. Today, we delivered the long-awaited relief that the people demanded, and which I championed in Albany.

“I will continue to ensure that New Yorkers most essential needs are met,” she added. “The disparities this pandemic exposed are not a result of the virus but a result of deep-rooted inequities in our society.

“We cannot allow race and socioeconomic status to continue to be the determining factors in our recovery from the coronavirus,” Bichotte continued. “I am thankful that today, my colleagues in the state Legislature also recognized the needs of our state and local community by passing this bill.”

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