NEW YORK (PIX11) — Rents are rising and eviction court is back in business.
That is the picture being painted by new city data just compiled and released by the Legal Aid Society. It comes as elected leaders scramble to help people with a growing affordability crisis.
It was all smiles Wednesday as Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams and other local leaders broke ground on 326 affordable apartments in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx. When completed in about two years, the $189 million development will including 200 homes with supportive services for homeless individuals.
“When you think about it, once it’s completed, this will fill the hole in the hearts of people who did not feel the city belonged to them,” Adams said.
But the cheery atmosphere stands in contrast the a troubling reality for renters in the city. In addition to rising rents, preliminary data just released by the Legal Aid Society shows evictions rising sharply. Marshalls executed 104 in January as the pandemic eviction moratorium expired. The number rose to 213 in March, and 315 in June.
Legal Aid, which represents clients in eviction court, is not even counting all the throngs of renters just leaving with nowhere to go, even before the formal eviction process.
“They’re either entering the homeless shelter or doubling and tripling up with family and friends,” said Judith Goldiner with Legal Aid.
Goldiner said Good Cause Eviction legislation is needed now more than ever. The proposed state law would tie rent increases to inflation, and bar the eviction of good tenants who pay their rents on time, unless the landlord needs the space for family.
“We’re seeing so many people who could be saved by good cause,” she said. “We are seeing people facing large increases in rent no one can possibly afford: $100-$200-$300-$400 sometimes more than that increases in rent.”
Gov. Hochul pointed to hundreds of millions for projects like the one unveiled Wednesday in the Bronx. She also said the state is continuing to fund an emergency rental assistance program, and fund eviction defense counsel efforts outside the City.
Following the groundbreaking, PIX11 was able to press Hochul on if she think “Good Cause” should be the law of the land in New York.
“It did not get through the legislature,” Hochul said. “I deal with the realities that are in front of me. I got landmark legislation through to increase affordability but there’s always next session, and we will always talk about ways to make life easier for New Yorkers.”
New York City residents do have strong eviction protections, including the right to legal representation in eviction court.