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Ahead of eviction moratorium deadline, New York governor asks White House for more rent relief funds

Credit: New York NOW
Credit: New York NOW

NEW YORK NOW - Gov. Kathy Hochul asked the Biden administration again on Tuesday for another round of federal funding to replenish the state’s rent relief fund as New York’s moratorium on evictions nears its expiration date.

New York  asked the federal government for nearly $1 billion in additional federal rental assistance funding in November, but that money hasn’t come through as of yet.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Hochul said she’d signed onto a letter with governors from other states, making an additional request to the White House for more funding.

But, regardless of that letter, she said that renters should be prepared for the state’s eviction moratorium to expire at the end of the week, and that she was frustrated in the federal government’s decision to withhold new funds.

"What we want to do is let people know that that is concluding very shortly,” Hochul said. “I’m having conversations with the Legislature on what to do on this issue.”

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Westchester, told reporters on Monday that she would be speaking with the other members of her conference about a potential extension of the moratorium.

But all signs, as of Tuesday, pointed to its expiration. Lawmakers are scheduled to leave Albany for the week Wednesday afternoon, and have given no indication that they plan to stick around.

The moratorium has prevented landlords from evicting tenants who’ve claimed a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been in place in various forms for nearly two years now, originating at the start of the crisis.

The most recent iteration was put in place over the summer, with an expiration date of Jan. 15, 2022 — this Saturday.

New York had coupled its eviction moratorium with billions of dollars in relief for tenants who couldn’t pay their rent. But the application portal for those funds was closed last year after the money ran out.

That doesn’t mean tenants will be out of options if the moratorium is left to expire this weekend.

A state judge  ordered the Hochul administration to reopen the  application portal last week. While there’s no money to be distributed, tenants who apply for the funding are considered to be protected from eviction until the state makes a decision on their request.

The federal government had  originally indicated that, if funding wasn’t depleted nationwide, the remaining rent relief money would be sent to states with higher demand — like New York. That hasn’t happened.

So far, neither the Biden administration nor leaders in Congress have said that they plan to send more rent relief funding to New York.