Minority Leaders, Members Call for Immediate Action amid Unprecedented Eviction Moratorium Extension
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I-Pulaski) and Senate Minority Leader Rob
Ortt (R,C,I-North Tonawanda), joined by Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) and Sen. Pam Helming (54th District), discussed the state’s pending eviction moratorium extension and special session.
The members expressed concerns about extending, yet again, a moratorium that has severely inhibited the state’s housing market and threatens to further infringe on the rights of already struggling property owners. Inexplicably, the state has sat on billions of dollars meant to be distributed through the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA) to landlords and tenants, but an overwhelming portion of the funds remain untapped.
“It is extremely concerning that, once again, Assembly Majoritymembers are seeking to extend the eviction moratorium, leaving property owners without protections for nearly a year and a half. This legislation will only ensure that landlords will have to reach deeper into their own personal savings and loans to cover mounting expenses, including mortgages, utilities and property taxes. Instead, the state should be focused on distributing billions in federal financial assistance in a more efficient manner to get help to those truly facing hardship, while also allowing for legal protections for small-housing providers,” said Assemblyman Fitzpatrick, Ranking Minority Member on the Housing Committee.
“Since January, $2.6 billion in federal emergency rental assistance funding has been available to landlords and tenants, and yet OTDA has repeatedly failed to deliver to those struggling to make ends meet,” said Leader Barclay. “The state’s eviction moratorium expired yesterday, but here we – the Legislature – are today, back in Albany for an emergency special session to address a matter that should have been resolved long before now. Had the rent-relief program been administered by the state properly, and in the manner in which the federal government intended in the first place, tenants who have fallen on difficult times due to COVID and small-property owners who have received no income for the past 18 months, would have been in a far better financial position. Once and for all, OTDA must get its act together and ease the fiscal insecurity for landlords and tenants alike.”
“For months, my Minority colleagues and I have pushed for our Majority colleagues to deliver much-needed relief to struggling New York tenants and landlords. For months, they have ignored our calls, as well as everyone else who isn’t a radical ‘cancel rent’ activist. Their unlawful eviction moratorium, continued today, defies all common sense if the true goal is to protect renters, small business owners and stabilize the housing market. Their failure to deliver these critical funds – combined with the devastating policies they craft behind closed doors – is an implicit acknowledgment of their own incompetence. Deliver the relief NOW,” said Leader Ortt.
Today’s special session is the culmination of months of inaction and ineffective government. As early as March, the Assembly Minority Conference called upon state officials to distribute billions of dollars in unused federal aid and, in April, the Conference pushed for a reversal of the economically damaging and illogical moratorium.
Then, in May, Leaders Barclay and Ortt stood with Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon to again call for quicker distribution of rent relief funds. For months, the county has operated an efficient rent-relief program that could’ve served as a model for the statewide program.
Last week, the Minority leaders wrote a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul, Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts Lawrence Marks and OTDA Commissioner Michael Hein, calling on them to take immediate steps to allow tenants and landlords to receive critical financial relief and avoid potential evictions. A copy of the letter is available here.