Legal Aid Society


Advocacy Groups Call for Rent Freeze for New Yorkers

Elected officials and tenants’ rights advocates are demanding a rent freeze for New Yorkers hit hard by the destabilizing effects of the Coronavirus outbreak, which has crippled the economic life of America’s largest city and endangers its most vulnerable residents.

This week, NY state officials passed two measures designed to protect New Yorkers: an indefinite suspension of eviction proceedings and, yesterday, a 90-day suspension of mortgage payments and foreclosures, according to Curbed NY. Despite the relief provided by those measures, advocacy groups say they are inadequate to protect New Yorkers – many of whom were already living paycheck-to-paycheck and have had their incomes devastated by the pandemic.

Advocates note that nothing contained within the measures taken thus far by the state would prohibit landlords from demanding back payment of rent once the moratorium has been lifted – or even launching eviction proceedings based on non-payment.

“There needs to be a federal and state response to deal with this so that we don’t end up at the end of the moratorium with everyone getting evicted,” said Ellen Davidson, a staff attorney at The Legal Aid Society. “If our officials don’t work on this until after the moratorium is lifted, I think we’re gonna end up in a new crisis. People are losing their jobs, closing their businesses—it’s going to be hard to continue to pay our rent”