Last week, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich blocked a nationwide eviction that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established last year as COVID-19 lockdowns put millions of renters out of work. The U.S. The District Judge agreed to put a temporary hold on her ruling as Congress seeks to reverse the decision on appeal. The ruling is a setback to efforts by President Joseph R. Biden to help renters and unwind from financial stress caused by the pandemic. The CDC moratorium, which was first enacted by President Donald Trump and later extended by Biden, was designed to prevent mass evictions in the face of a public health emergency that has seen millions of Americans lose their jobs and fall deeply into debt.
In a 20-page order, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich vacated the CDC order, first put in place during the pandemic under the Trump administration and now set to expire June 30th. The Biden administration has indicated it will appeal the decision. Once again, to reiterate the measure continues a temporary stop on evictions and some foreclosures for renters and landlords who can attest that their financial woes are caused by COVID and preventing them from paying their rent or mortgage. At least 43 states and Washington D.C, have imposed their own temporary halts on residential or business evictions, though the protections are far from uniform.
In regards to New York State, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has signed an extension of the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 and the COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Business Act of 2021. The measure has extended New York’s current moratorium placed on residential and commercial evictions from May 1st to August 31, 2021. The legislation will also provide support for struggling small businesses facing eviction and foreclosure, relieving the burden of fear and uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought New York’s families and small businesses.
The bill – as with other previous extensions of eviction moratoriums allows tenants to claim a “hardship declaration” with the state, stating they are unable to pay rent due to lost income, increased costs tied to the pandemic or if they can prove moving would pose a health risk either to themselves or another household member. The previously enacted legislation helps both residential and commercial tenants facing eviction and mortgagors facing foreclosure proceedings due to the pandemic.
Lawmakers acknowledged that we’re still in a pandemic and COVID-19 is still affecting people’s health and incomes. The state’s new $2.4 billion rent relief program is not up and running yet, so tenant advocates and lawmakers pushed to extend the eviction moratorium until people have the chance to apply for relief. Here at The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux, we are doing our best to keep everyone informed about the resources available during these difficult times.