MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Demonstrations across New York took place on Tuesday as dozens of tenants protested against evictions. This comes after the state moratorium expired last month.
Tenants facing evictions stood with their supporters outside housing court in Manhattan, Albany and Kingston. Fidel Albert rallied in New York City and claims she was harassed by a lease owner.
“I fight to the end and I will continue to fight,” Albert said. “It must be known, it must be heard, and we have to get a solution to this.”
Protestors held up cutouts of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s face with the words ‘Evictor-in-Chief’ printed across.
The eviction moratorium expired on Jan. 15 and the protesters say a long-term protection for tenants has not been put in place since, which is why they want the governor to enact the ‘Good Cause Eviction’ bill. The bill would prohibit landlords from evicting a tenant without a court order from a judge, who would have to decide if the eviction is for good cause.
Andrea Shapiro, the program manager of Met Council and Housing, said there are 92,000 homeless people in the state.
“We know easily a quarter of a million people who can’t pay rent did not get money through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and can be evicted,” Shapiro said.
Critics of the bill, like Sherri Culpepper, said it would unfairly put landlords in a difficult position.
“I’m not suggesting people should be thrown in the street, but there’s a flaw in the system,” Culpepper said. “There’s a flaw when you have to take care of people for years and they can live free. Landlords have responsibilities. They have mortgages.”
Supporters said it would create a framework for tenants to negotiate fair rent increases and end what they call ‘unjust evictions.’
Nick Smith, the first deputy public advocate, was also at the protest.
“When we’re in an era of a pandemic that has ravaged us, why are we having to demand such basic rights?” Smith said. “So, that’s why we’re out there and I’m glad that the folks who are here are making their voices heard in front of court.”
They claim four million New Yorkers are at risk if there’s no action on the bill.
A spokesperson for Gov. Hochul sent a statement to PIX11 after the protest:
“Governor Hochul has taken decisive action to protect tenants—from breaking the Emergency Rental Assistance logjam, to investing $25 million in free legal services for tenants, to proposing a series of bold, achievable measures in her Executive Budget that address longstanding housing inequities—including an additional $35 million for the Eviction Protection Legal Assistance Fund,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to work closely with the legislature and members of the advocacy community to protect vulnerable New Yorkers and keep tenants in their homes.”