Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz Statement on Critical Housing Protections Legislation

The COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act would alter judicial procedure to prevent evictions, foreclosures, and tax lien sales that would otherwise remove people from their homes during a pandemic.

The New York State Assembly is taking up the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020, legislation which was introduced by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, said: “As policymakers, our top priority must be to ensure that human dignity and decency can be maintained – even during times of crisis. Housing is a human right, and I am proud of the protections that this critical legislation puts into place. Although we still have much work to be done to get through the pandemic, such as raising revenue through a tax on the wealthiest among us, this legislation will help thousands and thousands of New Yorkers stay in their homes and the impact of this cannot be understated.

“The pandemic has been difficult enough on New Yorkers without the added anxiety and uncertainty of losing your home, and this legislation makes sure everyone, including, seniors, families, and children – whether they are tenants or homeowners – aren’t put out on the street in the middle of winter during a pandemic. The Tenant Safe Harbor Law has already provided key protections against evictions for new rent arrears during the COVID-19 period, and this new legislation expands on that effort. I believe once this legislation is enacted into law, New York will have the strongest housing protections of anywhere in the nation.

“Thank you in particular to the leadership of Speaker Carl Heastie as well as my colleagues in the Assembly Majority who have been incredible participants in the crafting of this omnibus legislation. Thank you as well to my counterpart sponsor in the State Senate, State Senator Brian Kavanagh, as well as the new State Senate majority for their partnership. I am hopeful that this legislation will be passed and signed into law imminently so that New Yorkers can be protected as soon as possible.”

Bill Summary

The COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (A11181) addresses many concerns that have been raised over the past several months, and it builds on successes established in the Tenant Safe Harbor Law that was enacted over the summer.

• All ongoing eviction-related matters, residential foreclosure proceedings would be stayed (frozen) for 60 days. These proceedings could be further stayed until May 1, 2021 by submitting a standard hardship declaration form available to tenants, homeowners, and small landlords.

• It establishes a course of action for certain proceedings to continue where tenant may be causing a substantial safety hazard to others, which has been a significant source of contention with broader eviction moratorium proposals. Tenants would still be obligated to pay their debts and landlords can seek a money judgment through the civil courts even while the eviction stay is underway.

• It prohibits negative credit decisions to homeowners who receive a stay on a mortgage foreclosure, tax foreclosure, or tax lien sale, or if they are in arrears and file a hardship declaration.

• It extends the Senior Citizens’ Homeowner Exemption and Disabled Homeowner Exemption programs without requiring homeowners to actively recertify unless they may be entitled to a larger exemption, cutting red tape for some of our most vulnerable neighbors.

The bill text can be viewed here.