New Yorkers at risk of eviction and homelessness were thrown another lifeline this week.
New York State is extending its eviction moratorium through Aug. 31, along with a rent assistance program for tenants. As the state prepares to reopen its economy this month, hundreds of thousands of residents are still struggling to pay rent.
Here’s what you need to know:
State lawmakers passed legislation on Monday to extend eviction moratorium protections that expired May 1. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the order Tuesday.
The state is also expected to start distributing over $2 billion in rental assistance for tenants that will cover up to a year’s worth of unpaid rent and utilities. The financial aid will also benefit landlords who have gone over a year with little income.
Tenants will be able to apply to the rent relief program later this month.
Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers have teetered on the edge of losing their homes because of the pandemic. The eviction moratorium has been extended a handful of times since last year. On average, renters owe $8,150 in unpaid rent, according to the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, a coalition of housing nonprofits.
Though tenants who can show a financial or health hardship because of the pandemic cannot be evicted, more than 50,000 eviction cases have been filed in New York City Housing Court, the highest number in the country, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.
Black and Latino neighborhoods in the Bronx and Queens, which have been hit hardest by the virus, have had the highest number of eviction cases.
The extended moratorium and additional aid is good news for tenants, but housing advocates have raised concerns for what’s to come after Aug. 31.
“These are the same communities that face greater rates of eviction, even when we’re not in a global pandemic,” said Jennie Stephens-Romero, a supervising attorney with Make the Road New York, a nonprofit.
Ms. Stephens-Romero said both the moratorium and renters’ assistance are “completely necessary” as many tenants begin to return to work. Struggling tenants, many of whom are immigrants, are likely to need help from community organizations to apply for the program.
“It’s not out of the question that we may need another extension after that,” she said.