Eviction moratorium extension draws opposition

Eviction moratorium extension draws opposition

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

The extension of the eviction moratorium in New York has drawn criticism from local politicians, who see it as being unfair to landlords, while others say renters and landlords need to take advantage of state assistance in order to mitigate a potential housing crisis.

The eviction moratorium was extended to Jan. 15, 2022, which Gov. Kathy Hochul said was to “alleviate the crisis facing vulnerable New Yorkers who are suffering through no fault of their own.”

Hochul urged renters in need to seek out help from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
ERAP was meant to assist renters during the coronavirus crisis who are below 80% median income, received unemployment benefits or a reduced income after March 13, 2020, as a result of the pandemic shutdown and have outstanding rent due or are at risk of homelessness or housing insecurity.
However, ERAP has been slow to disperse funds and has been the subject of criticism by republicans representing Otsego County in the Assembly.

“We did a terrible job getting this out to help tenants and landlords,” Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-New Hartford, said during a phone interview about the subject.

Miller said he was “getting calls constantly” from landlords who are struggling.

“They have taxes due, they have mortgages,” Miller said, emphasizing they weren’t big landlords. “These people buy their property for vacation rentals. “

According to the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, there are 155 applications in Otsego County for ERAP as of July, which is less than 1% of the state total of 168,321.
Miller said the relief money was given from federal dollars, “when COVID was in full swing.”

“The rationale for the moratorium was people were out of work,” Miller said. “Now there’s really more jobs. There are jobs everywhere. Why aren’t the renters working to pay their rent when there are jobs available? Employees are crying for people to work.”

Miller maintains not enough was done for the landlords and said the process has to be initiated by the renters. He said he wasn’t opposed to voting for an extension again if it included protections for landlords.

“We have to do a much better job,” Miller said. “There have to be provisions in the law that allows evictions.”

Audrey Benkenstein, housing and community development director at Opportunities for Otsego, said the eviction moratorium was extended in order to give more time for renters and landlords to reach out for assistance.

She said funds are available but have been slow to disperse.

“There have been issues with the rollout (of ERAP),” Benkenstein said. “There’s still a billion dollars of rent relief. We are trying to make people understand that tenants and landlords can apply for funds.”
Benkenstein emphasized that landlords can take advantage of funds from ERAP and that some of her calls have been from landlords.

“Everyone I talked to at the state level has said that is what this funding is for; to help renters and help mitigate effects on landlords,” Benkenstein said. “We’ve been expecting a wave of evictions for awhile now. The wave has been put off, but we expect there will be one unless we are successful in getting every tenant who is eligible made aware of community funds and pandemic relief.”

Shelby Wing, town supervisor for Pittsfield, said she has tenants on her property that haven’t paid in 10 months.

“Our home is getting destroyed by the day,” Wing said, who met with lawyers about the situation with her tenants shortly before talking to AllOtsego. But she said the lawyers couldn’t really do anything about the situation.

“I know a lot of people are in a similar situation,” Wing said. “We’re not a huge company. We’re just a couple.”

“We can’t even do maintenance,” Wing said, who asserted the renters won’t let her onto the property.

“We’re working multiple jobs. … We did file for money from the government, but we can’t evict,” Wing said.


2 thoughts on “Eviction moratorium extension draws opposition

  1. Leah

    I think some people are just sitting back not doing anything expecting the eviction moratoriums to be extended indefinitely or for help to fall from the sky. With almost everyone having a computer or cellphone these days there’s no way you cannot know about the help in your state even if you’re having issues completing it go to a library or a friend and ask for help. When you’re desperate yo will find a way!!
    I know many people who have to pick and choose between rent & food of course you pay your rent because without a roof over your head you’re screwed!
    I’ve been homeless before because of my choices I’m ok now but still just barely making ends meet myself as a family of five we survive on my partners disability, my part time job and utilize assistance that’s available and not purchasing anything that’s not absolutely essential, some months everything goes to bills… that’s life in 2021 for MANY.
    I don’t care what people say there IS help out there I just believe some have let themselves get so far behind because of very poor Budgeting skills, mental health, addictions,etc that now that it’s time to pay rent (Oct 3rd in my state) they’d rather blame everyone else but themselves.
    Landlords have to feed their families as well, they did not tell you to let your rent go for a year and live beyond your means.
    Of course I’m NOT referring to everyone obviously there are those who have been met with large unexpected medical bills or Illnesses such a covid, unemployment or disability is behind, or they’re awaiting housing,etc. They have made efforts to find assistance, work at a less than ideal job, take public transportation, they’ve communicated with their landlords and have made reasonable efforts to pay something each month and are actively trying to get through this even if it means things will be extremely tight for awhile they’re doing it because they’ve their priorities in order.
    Then there are others who just don’t care,they want to blame the government, covid, anyone but themselves but they make sure their new car note is paid, they buy stuff that’s not needed,new clothing, toys for the kids, food in the fridge,etc. They think this eviction moratorium is going to continue indefinitely! I know people who are doing this and as someone who is struggling myself it pisses me off they are getting chance after chance after chance without lifting a finger telling the media they can’t find the help. I’m sorry I call BS.
    There’s plenty of rental and food assistance,medicaid,free or low cost child care,utility assistance and jobs out there!! Maybe not ones you want but it’ll pay the bills until something better comes along.
    Those people who take advantage of the system need to learn the hard way and the people who are actually trying given more time to get ahead.
    We cannot keep kicking the can, this moratorium has to end sometime.

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