Mayor Announces New Measures to Bolster Tenant Protections, Outreach

Mayor Adams announces push to promote available tenant protections upon the impending end of the state’s eviction moratorium. Image Credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

The Mayor joins a collective call from New York leadership at the federal, state and municipal levels to help New Yorkers avoid evictions with federal rental assistance. On January 13, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams announced a new push to promote tenant protections that are available in New York City and called for an infusion of funds from the US Department of Treasury into the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The announcement comes as the state’s eviction moratorium is set to expire on January 15th. 

The state has received over $2.6 billion in federal funds for emergency rental assistance, but over 500,000 New York families still need help, including more than 50,000 residents in NYCHA households. The state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program is low on funds and currently only accepts applications for applicants earning between 80 to 120 percent of the area median income, but pending applicants can receive temporary eviction protections. There are still funds remaining in the federal government’s $45 billion pot set aside for emergency rental assistance, as other states have not fully utilized those funds available. Mayor Adams’ request to the US Department of Treasury asks that some of these unused funds be reallocated to New York where it can be used, and follows in similar calls for action by Governor Kathy Hochul and Senator Chuck Schumer. 

The lack of currently available funds in the state’s emergency rental assistance program has necessitated finding other ways to assist tenants in need. The City’s latest push includes expanded outreach efforts to inform tenants about their rights and the resources that are available to them. Through a web page entitled Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants (MOPT) COVID-19 Fact Sheet, a list of topics and issues links users to the relevant resource or provides information. The topics include evictions, what to do in an illegal lockout, information for NYCHA residents and Section 8 voucher-holders, issues with paying rent due to COVID-19 quarantining or reduced work schedules, information for immigrants, and what to do if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, among other issues. There is also a City’s Tenant Resource Portal to learn about the process of evictions in New York City, and the City’s Right to Counsel program available to provide free legal assistance for eligible New Yorkers. 

Mayor Adams also announced that more resources would be added to the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit Tenant Helpline, which is accessible by calling 311. The Public Engagement Unit will also conduct direct outreach with tenants at risk for eviction to connect them to support and inform them of their rights. A media campaign is also being launched. 

Mayor Adams stated, “The federal government has the resources, and now it is time for them to take action with an immediate infusion of funds for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. New York has gotten the very short end of the stick, and I am joining Senator Schumer and Governor Hochul in demanding that change. In addition, I am encouraging everyone to take advantage of all the resources available to you, know your rights, and protect yourself against eviction.”

New York House Representatives, State Senators, Assembly Members, Borough Presidents, City Council Members and City agency leadership have also spoken out in need for additional federal funds and the importance of tenant protections. 

Representative Jamaal Bowman stated, “Due to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans are facing deep rental debt, the prospect of eviction, and housing insecurity. This housing crisis that predated the pandemic is disproportionately impacting renters of color who face higher unemployment rates, are more likely to contract and become severely ill with COVID-19, and are more likely to lose their homes. In order to achieve an equitable recovery from this pandemic, we must provide assistance to the estimated one in five renters that are struggling with back rent. To avoid further housing instability that could leave families, many of them with children, experiencing homelessness, trauma, and devastating cycles of poverty, we must do everything we can to provide an immediate infusion of funds to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.”

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso stated, “With the State’s eviction moratorium set to expire in two days, our city is about to face an unprecedented eviction crisis. I appreciate Mayor Adams’ efforts to expand resources for tenants, and I support his call on our federal government partners to provide more financial assistance to New Yorkers in need. We already have a homelessness crisis in New York, and if we don’t address this impending crisis head on, it’s about to get much worse.” 

Council Member Chi Ossé stated, “There is no good time to remove a family from their home, but there could not be a worse time than in the middle of January at the peak of Covid’s worst-ever wave. I welcome these measures to protect tenants; families are counting on the federal government to deliver this already-allocated funding for their basic welfare and safety. The majority of New Yorkers are renters — those struggling to make ends meet must not be further destabilized by this preventable crisis.”

For additional statements from government representatives, click here

CityLand continues to provide coverage for the City’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For prior coverage, click here.

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)


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