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Republicans blast special session to extend eviction moratorium, call for landlords to be compensated

Republican leaders are speaking out about the pending special session, which many expect to result in the extension of New York’s eviction moratorium through January 2022. Hundreds of millions has not been dispersed as part of federal rent relief programs, but lawmakers are now considering an extension to the state’s Supreme Court-challenged moratorium.

“As Governor [Kathy] Hochul and Majority Leaders consider a special session this week, they should be reminded that our immediate next step must be to fix a broken rent-relief program and demand the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA) do the job it has thus far failed to achieve. We’ve heard promises to that end, but it’s time to see results,” Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said in a statement on Tuesday. “The officials now hoping to run back to Albany showed no urgency whatsoever between January and July, as the state put $2.6 billion in federal assistance in a drawer while tenants and landlords struggled to make ends meet. Since the beginning of the year, funding has been available. Unfortunately, competence from Albany has not.”

In August, a scathing report from the state Comptroller’s office showed that a significant portion of the rental assistance, which was part of the American Rescue Plan signed into law during the spring was not being distributed effectively. Governor Hochul promised a change when she took office.

Republican leaders like Barclay called extending the eviction moratorium ‘short-sighted’ and ‘detrimental’ to small property owners who have received no relief and no income for the last 18 months. While some estimates have shown that landlords lost upwards of 50% of their income during the pandemic – a significant portion of that came during the point at which the state’s economy was shut down.

“Extending the eviction moratorium in its current form is absolutely short-sighted and detrimental to small property owners who have received no relief and no income for the past 18 months. As their own mortgage and utility costs have piled up, no protections for small housing providers have been offered,” Barclay added. “Any new legislation must include provisions that bring fairness and balance to the entire process. Property owners should be entitled to challenge hardship declarations. Tenants who have not paid rent, but refuse to seek assistance from the state, should not be shielded from evictions. Housing courts need to be open and active. Aligning the court system with OTDA can bring more people into the existing rent-relief program quickly and efficiently.”

Major questions loom about the effectiveness of any eviction moratorium in New York at this juncture, as the Supreme Court struck down a major component of it in August.