February 4, 2021
Just days before the eviction moratorium was set to expire, Albany passed emergency legislation to halt evictions until May 1, 2021. For the estimated 1.2 million New York families in rent arrears — many of whom are families with children — this news brought a momentary sigh of relief, but the paralyzing fear of eviction this spring shortly followed as New York still lacks any long-term plan to keep families safely housed.
With hospitalizations and positivity rates continuing to spike and new unemployment claims being filed at a dizzying pace, this temporary eviction ban is not a long-term solution, nor is waiting for the stars to align so we can return to “normal.” Consider this: When the 12.1% of New Yorkers collecting unemployment are able to return to a healthy job market, how many months of rental arrears will have piled up? And is repayment even possible? In 2018, 22% of New York City renters paid more than half of their household income in rent. The lowest-income families are disproportionately likely to pay one-third to half of their income in rent, and face systemic inequalities limiting their ability to accrue savings. It’s partly why families with children already made up nearly 70% of shelter residents prior to the pandemic.