Brooklyn Boro

Nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers at risk for eviction when trials begin next month

July 22, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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Eviction cases have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Housing Court will begin hearing new cases starting on Aug. 20. Nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers are in danger, according to the firm Stout Risius Ross LLC.

That number approached the 2.3 million households-per-year average for the entire nation, according to the Eviction Lab. Across the country, there are nearly 17 million households at risk of eviction, according to Stout.

“This data shows us that all the terms people have been using to describe what’s coming — ‘cliff,’ ‘tsunami,’ ‘avalanche’ and so on — might actually be an understatement,” said John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel. “The only reason we haven’t already seen two million eviction filings is because of all the CARES Act relief that at this point is either going or gone.”

The total number of households at risk of evictions in New York is 1,496,000, according to Stout, and the estimated shortfall in rent is $2,210,000,000. That’s 46.39 percent of renter households that are at risk of being unable to pay rent. Stout estimates that 1,010,000 evictions will be filed in New York, and nearly 11.5 million across the country, within the next four months.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

In Brooklyn, some tenants have the right to counsel when facing evictions. However, the local program behind that has only been implemented in select zip codes, and attorneys question how much funding is available during the current recession.

“Under normal circumstances, you go to court, do a [stipulation], the tenant gets a payout or you have an agreement,” said attorney Domenick Napoletano. “However, for instance, the Human Resources Administration has no money right now. They have absolutely no money to give tenants assistance to pay arrears. So what are we doing?”

A study of New York City’s right-to-counsel program found that only 38 percent of tenants who appeared in housing court had attorneys and that 84 percent of those represented were able to stay in their homes. Since 2013, the total number of evictions in New York City has dropped 41.1 percent from 28,849 evictions in 2013 to 16,996 evictions in 2019.

“At a time when sheltering in place is paramount to stabilizing the United States and controlling the pandemic, our country is on the brink of a housing crisis of unprecedented magnitude that could devastate the renters, property owners and the entire housing market,” said Emily Benfer, law professor at Wake Forest University School of Law. “As this important tool demonstrates, failure to intervene will result in a humanitarian disaster of our own making.”

The extra $600 per week bonus that people on unemployment have been receiving as part of the federal CARES Act during the pandemic is expected to run out by the end of July. More than 25 million Americans are receiving that benefit, according to The Century Foundation.

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  1. I wonder if the author thought about speaking to tenants or tenant advocacy orgs that have been working hard to keep the courts closed, showing up by the hundreds at actions in front of 141 Livingston Street in the past month? Or the work of the Right to Counsel and Housing Justice for All Coalitions to #CancelRent and extend the eviction moratorium? There’s no mention of the fact that we successfully got the June 20th date bumped forward to August 5th through mass direct action which was widely reported both by hyperlocal Brooklyn news sources and national outlets, though none more accurately than former BK Eagle reporter Emma Whitford at Law 360. It’s not the CARES act that is currently holding evictions at bay – it’s the efforts of tenants fighting alongside legal services providers (also excluded in this article) to stop an eviction crisis from starting in the first place. Finally, the author is conflating the Right to Counsel program with the One Shot Deal offered by the city. The Right to Counsel does not directly include the right to rent arrears, which are administered separately, and the funding that provides for these legal services has not been rescinded or significantly reduced. Nonetheless, we still face a crisis and the solutions offered by the state and city governments have so far been inadequate. We need an extension of the moratorium for a year after the crisis is over and the cancellation of rent for the duration of the pandemic with relief for homeowners and small & nonprofit landlords who have lost rental income. Call your state Senator and Assembly Members and let them know!!