New York anti-eviction halts most evictions for at least 60 days

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The New York State Legislature signed a sweeping anti-eviction law Monday, halting most evictions in the state for at least another 60 days as unemployment remains high due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill, called the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Act of 2020, during a remote meeting with state lawmakers Monday. The law, in addition to preventing most evictions, will also protect some small landlords from foreclosure. It will also reinstate tax exemptions provided for disabled residents and the elderly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium, which protects some tenants from eviction if the pandemic affects them financially, was set to expire on Dec. 31. State legislators, who typically don’t meet between Christmas and New Year’s, met in a special session to vote on the new law.

“This law adds to previous executive orders by protecting the needy and vulnerable who, through no fault of their own, face eviction during an incredibly difficult period for New York,” Cuomo said in a press release about the law.

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In Syracuse, about 20 people gathered at a rally downtown on Dec. 19, calling for an extension of the moratorium on evictions. Speakers at the event, which was organized in part by the Syracuse Tenants Union and the local branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, said the eviction crisis has disproportionately affected women, especially Black and immigrant women. 

Landlords file evictions against Black women at double or more the rate of white tenants in 17 of 36 states, the ACLU found in April. Domestic abuse has also increased during the pandemic, and evictions could force women who have escaped abusive situations to re-enter unsafe homes, protesters said. 

New York lawmakers, as well as other state legislators, are working to provide relief to people experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, Cuomo said.

“The more support we provide for tenants, mortgagors and seniors, the easier it will be for them to get back on their feet when the pandemic ends,” he said.

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