The state legislature is poised to expand protections for New Yorkers at risk of being kicked out of their homes due to financial hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the legislature would meet in a rare December session Monday to take up the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act.
Housing is a basic human right, and that is why I am calling the Assembly into session on Monday, December 28th to take up critical eviction protections for tenants and residential mortgage foreclosure preventions for homeowners./1— Carl E. Heastie (@CarlHeastie) December 27, 2020
The bill would pause eviction proceedings until May 1 for tenants who have filled out forms proving they have lost income, have not been able to find work, can't afford to move or have increased health, child care or other family care expenses due to the pandemic.
"By enacting this comprehensive residential eviction and foreclosure moratorium, we are delivering real protection for countless renters and homeowners who would otherwise be at risk of losing their homes, adding to the unprecedented hardship that so many are facing," bill sponsor State Sen. Brian Kavanagh said in a statement Sunday.
Landlords would also be given a reprieve from foreclosure or tax lien sales if they own properties with 10 or fewer units and can declare that financial hardship has prevented them from paying their mortgage or property taxes.
The push to strengthen protections comes as an executive order barring residential evictions expires later this week, setting off concerns that people will be forced from their homes.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he would extend the executive order and sign the more comprehensive bill once it passes.
“We want to make sure that homeowners are protected, that it doesn’t affect their credit rating, there’s no mortgage foreclosure," Cuomo said. "The legislature convenes today and we have an agreement with them on a housing moratorium bill."
“We have an agreement and as soon as that bill is passed, I'll sign it.” the governor added.
Lawmakers say they hope they can get stronger protections from the federal government once President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
"Enacting these critical protections will give us the opportunity to work with our federal congressional delegation - & with the incoming Biden Administration - to continue to craft policy & direct critical federal funding to help tenants, homeowners especially small landlords," Heastie said in a tweet.
Activists believe the legislature was spurred to take immediate action after a video surfaced of a family being evicted in Rochester last week during a snowstorm.