Courts reopen statewide to process claims as state stalls on relief for tenants

Troy, NY— Housing courts throughout New York are moving forward with eviction cases that were filed before the pandemic. Today, Citizen Action of New York, Albany General Defense Committee, VOCAL-NY, New York State Poor People’s Campaign and Capital District DSA, held an eviction defense protest outside of Troy City Court calling for real solutions to the housing crisis, such as rent and mortgage forgiveness and housing access vouchers.

Tens of thousands of tenants, including dozens of Troy residents, are at immediate risk of eviction. Evictions are a form of sanctioned violence against poor people. They must be banned for the duration of the pandemic. Black and Brown New Yorkers are 3 to 4 times more likely to lose their homes and face chronic homelessness, and nearly half of all New Yorkers unable to pay their rent or mortgage. At a time where millionaire profits are soaring, New York must tax the richest in our state to invest in the excluded workers fund, public schools facing drastic cuts and other vital community support, and pass the three-bill housing justice package.

“Evicting people at a time where so many are unemployed is immoral and will push countless families further into debt as they struggle to recover for this public health and economic crisis,” said Ivette Alfonso, Citizen Action president.  “While New York’s billionaires fled to their vacation homes, working people and average New Yorkers braved the pandemic and are on the brink of economic collapse without relief from the state and federal government. People have already lost so much. We need a just recovery for all, including rent and mortgage assistance and housing for homeless New Yorkers.”

“The housing crisis in New York State, and especially here in the Capital Region, has been raging on long before Covid-19 hit and has only been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Ash Radliff, VOCAL-Albany community leader. “Reopening housing courts during a pandemic is unconscionable. How can people be expected to pay rent when our economy is still mostly shut down and after months of people struggling to survive? Evictions are violent and tear families apart. Shelters are already overcrowded throughout the state and homeless people cannot stay home. Landlords have been supported throughout this pandemic while tenants and people facing housing insecurity are left to fend for themselves. We demand an eviction-free New York throughout this pandemic.”

“We are in the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression, with millions unemployed and many left unable to pay their rent. It is unconscionable to move forward with evictions in the midst of a pandemic. Housing is a human right, and we need every elected official, from the city council to the state legislature, to extend the eviction moratorium, cancel rent and mortgage payments, and protect our communities through this emergency,” said Rev. Joe Paparone, NYS Poor People’s Campaign.