May 18, 2020
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo:
We continue to be in the middle of an unprecedented public health and economic crisis which has hit New Yorkers the hardest. We have seen how failed and insufficient interventions have cost lives. Now is the time to learn from these mistakes, or more New Yorkers will die.
Unfortunately, your May 7 Executive Order puts thousands of New York tenants at risk of eviction, homelessness and displacement and of the physical danger of contracting or spreading the virus in a crowded court, in the shelters, or on the street. This puts all New Yorkers at risk.
Right now, New Yorkers should not have to worry about their most basic needs, like housing, just so that landlords can continue business as usual. All of our focus should be on the health and safety of New Yorkers.
At your press briefing on May 7, you publicly said that the eviction moratorium would be extended until August 20 and that all New Yorkers who are worried about eviction and not being able to pay rent would be protected. However, the Executive Order that you released later that afternoon, directly contradicted your statement. Your Executive Order ends the eviction moratorium, gives a green light for courts to re-open, and will force thousands of tenants to face eviction cases in court and forced removal from their homes. This is unacceptable.
We urge you to rescind your most recent order and extend the universal Eviction Moratorium that’s currently in place and that protects ALL tenants across NY State, for the duration of the crisis.
We are calling on you to rescind the most recent order because:
- The order only stops landlords from filing cases and evicting tenants for non-payment of rent from June 20th to August 20th, if the tenant can prove they are getting unemployment insurance or are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. It puts the onus on tenants to prove they are entitled to not be sued or evicted. This means large numbers of tenants will still be sued in non-payment eviction cases and they will have to face intrusive inquiries into all their personal financial information, just to get dismissal of an eviction case that should never have been brought in the first place. This will prove particularly difficult and dangerous for undocumented New Yorkers.
- Many tenants who have currently suspended eviction warrants are at risk of being evicted come June 20th, because they won’t know how to stop the eviction, even if they do qualify for the moratorium.
- It does not protect tenants who are sick with COVID-19, who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, or who have been impacted by COVID-19 in any other non-financial way. All of these tenants can be sued by their landlords and evicted.
- It does not stop marshals and sheriffs from evicting tenants who faced holdover cases. This means many tenants can be evicted as of June 20th, if they have a pending eviction warrant that was issued in a holdover case.
- It does not stop landlords from filing new holdover eviction cases against tenants after June 20th. So landlords who want to evict tenants for anything that isn’t about non-payment of rent, will still be able to do that. This will undoubtedly lead to a rise in new holdover eviction cases.
By opening the door to all these new eviction cases and evictions, the new Executive Order will quickly take us back to overcrowded housing courts and families facing homelessness - both of which are guaranteed to endanger individual and public health.
Court efficiency and business as usual cannot be our priority in a pandemic. We urge you to issue a universal eviction moratorium that protects all New York tenants for the duration of the crisis.
- The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition
- Flatbush Tenant Coalition
- Institute for Justice and Opportunity at John Jay College
- Housing Conservation Coordinators
- The Legal Aid Society
- Communities Resist
- Met Council on Housing
- ZaraTenants Coalition
- Legal Services Staff Association, NOLSW/UAW 2320
- Cooper Square Committee
- TakeRoot Justice
- Citizen Action of New York
- Syracuse Tenants Union
- Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today: Southside Housing Taskforce
- Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition
- Coalition for the Homeless
- MinKwon Center for Community Action
- Tenants & Neighbors
- Urban Justice Center - Safety Net Project
- Urban Justice Center - Street Vendor Project
- CASA-New Settlement
- Goddard Riverside Law Project
- Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development
- Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson
- NYC Artist Coalition
- Woodside On The Move
- Housing Court Answers
- New York Legal Assistance Group
- The Center for Independence of the Disabled -- NY
- UAW local 2320, Housing Justice Workers
- Catholic Migration Services
- Neighbors Together
- New York Communities for Change
- JASA/Legal Services for Elder Justice
- Housing Justice for All
- CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities
- Mobilization for Justice
- UNO- United Neighbors Organization
- Housing Rights Initiative
- CAMBA Legal Services
- The Bronx Defenders
- New Economy Project
- Brooklyn Defender Services
- University Settlement
- DRUM - Desis Rising Up & Moving
- United Tenants of Albany
- Nassau County DSA
- New York New Jersey Regional Joint Board, Workers United, SEIU
- New York Nail Salon Workers Association
- St Nicks Alliance
- Crown Heights Tenant Union
- Partners for Dignity and Rights
- Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation
- NYC Loft Tenants
- Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
- Chelsea Coalition on Housing
- Central Park Gardens Tenants Association
- Kite’s Nest
- Urban Homesteading Assistance Board
- HOPE (Housing Organizers for People Empowerment)
- Red Hook Initiative
- City-Wide Tenant Union of Rochester, NY
- New York State Council of Churches
- The People’s Tech Alliance/Progressive Hacknight
- Riverside Edgecombe Neighborhood Alliance (RENA)
cc: Senator Brad Holyman, Chair of the New York State Senate Judiciary Committee; Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair of the New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee; Hon. Janet DiFiore, New York State Chief Judge; Hon. Lawrence K. Marks, Chief Administrative Judge of the State of NY; Hon. Anthony Cannataro, Administrative Judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York; Hon. George Silver, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for the New York City Courts; Hon. Jean Schneider, Citywide Supervising Judge, Housing Court