New York Governor Weighing Special Legislative Session to Delay Evictions: Report

New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during an opening ceremony on the first day of the Coney Island parks reopening, in Brooklyn, New York, April 9, 2021. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

New York Governor Kathy Hochul is reportedly eyeing a potential special session of the state legislature to address the imminent end of a moratorium on evictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hochul is having discussions with the leaders of the state Senate and the state Assembly about calling legislators back to Albany for a special session after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the CDC’s nationwide moratorium, according to The Hill. The Supreme Court struck down a New York State eviction moratorium earlier this month, ruling that the state’s policy that allowed a resident to certify a hardship on his or her own behalf violated a landlord’s right to a hearing.

“Our teams will be working through the weekend to address how best to deliver relief to renters and homeowners in need as quickly as possible,” Hochul said in a statement to the outlet.

The report adds that an Albany source said a special session is “almost certain.”

State senate majority leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, a Democrat, noted in a statement that the Court struck down the federal eviction moratorium and said “once again, New York State must lead the way.”

“As the Delta variant spreads, all levels of government must work together and solve this problem,” Stewart-Cousins said. “This is the time for the government to step up and protect all New Yorkers as we continue to battle this pandemic. We are working with both the Governor and the Assembly to figure out the best path forward.”

The final decision over whether to call a special session falls to Hochul.

After a nationwide moratorium instituted during the Trump administration expired on July 31, the CDC issued a second moratorium to cover counties with “high” or “substantial” COVID-19 spread, a designation which has covered the vast majority of counties in the U.S in recent weeks.

The Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration’s eviction moratorium in a 6-3 decision on Thursday. “It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken. But that has not happened,” the Court majority wrote in an unsigned opinion.

Meanwhile, though $2.7 billion in federal funding was allocated to New York state through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to help both renters who couldn’t pay and landlords who still owed mortgage payments and other costs on their property, just a small fraction of the funds have been used.

Nationally, just $5.1 billion of $50 billion in funds had been given to tenants and landlords by July, including a smaller fraction of funds set aside for New York residents, according to the Treasury Department.

Landlords who spoke with National Review earlier this month said they are owed thousands of dollars in rent since the eviction moratorium was instituted in 2020. “If there’s going to be a tsunami of anything, there’s a tsunami of debt out there,” said Bob Pinnegar, president and CEO of the National Apartment Association.

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