Brooklyn Boro

OCA confirms it has not resumed evictions

More protests outside Housing Court planned for Monday

August 10, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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Tenants advocates have been protesting in Downtown Brooklyn in front of the Civil Court, the Supreme Court on Jay Street and inside office buildings of attorneys who work in the Housing Court all week after evictions nearly resumed on Wednesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a 30-day extension of the eviction moratorium on Wednesday, putting off the deadline until Sept. 4. Cuomo has said publicly that he will continue to extend the moratorium throughout the pandemic.

“We signed legislation, passed by both houses, codifying our previous executive action making it clear that New Yorkers couldn’t be evicted due to a COVID-related hardship,” said a statement issued by Cuomo’s office. “The order signed last night continued provisions giving the courts and litigants the leeway to suspend deadlines related to civil litigation. How and if they use this authority when it comes to eviction proceedings is up to them.”

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The Office of Court Administration (OCA) confirmed that evictions have not resumed.

“We continue our paced, deliberative and measured efforts as we work to normalize court operations throughout New York City and New York State,” said an OCA spokesperson. “We are acutely aware of the differences and nuances the normalization process takes in each Court. In New York City Housing Court, we continue the use of virtual court proceedings and are sensitive to the needs of litigants, to the large number of filings, to accessibility and to the unique challenges that is New York City Housing Court.”

On Friday, The Legal Aid Society put out a statement calling for Gov. Cuomo to extend the eviction moratorium indefinitely “without need for action from the New York State courts.”

“New Yorkers on the brink of eviction need more than just a month-to-month extension of protections to defend against homelessness in the midst of this pandemic,” said Judith Goldiner, attorney-in-charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at the Legal Aid Society. “These families need Governor Cuomo to act on his own, without needlessly deferring to OCA, by using his powers and authority to extend the eviction moratorium indefinitely and outright.

“If U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other Washington Republicans can support an extended eviction moratorium, Governor Cuomo should at the least be ready to do the same,” she said.

The tenant advocacy groups the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition and Housing Justice for All organized three protests of the Housing Courts in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx on Monday morning.

They are advocating for the Emergency Housing Stability and Tenant Displacement Prevention Act, sponsored by State Sen. Zellnor Myrie and Assemblymember Karines Reyes. The legislation would define the COVID-19 period and prohibit evictions during that period.

“Tenants and advocates are urging the state Legislature to pass a real, universal eviction moratorium to last for the extension of the crisis, plus 90 days, as well as to cancel rent and mortgages,” said a press release issued by the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition and Housing Justice for All. “These measures are the only solutions that can meet the scale of the crisis, and will give people urgently needed stability in a moment of global crisis.”

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