Dear Mayor De Blasio:
We are deeply concerned about the impact that COVID-19 will have on New Yorkers who are at risk of eviction. We recently released a petition to Governor Cuomo and other state leaders calling for a moratorium on evictions and a rent freeze across NY State. While it’s imperative that action is taken immediately at the state level, there is much that New York City can and must do to protect New Yorkers. New York City doesn’t have to wait for the state. We can and must ACT NOW!
New York City Should:
- Impose a moratorium on evictions and the City’s Department of Investigation should immediately direct all City Marshals to cease executing warrants of eviction until further notice.
- Support the call to the state for a Moratorium on Evictions and a statewide Rent Freeze
- Immediately suspend further action on all pending NYCHA eviction, termination of tenancy and termination of Section 8 subsidy proceedings.
- Institute a NYCHA Moratorium on commencing any new eviction, termination of tenancy or termination of Section 8 subsidy proceedings.
- Direct the Department of City Administrative Services to close all housing court facilities and NYCHA administrative hearing offices to stop the spread of COVID-19.
As our letter to the Governor states:
New York is facing a public health crisis that is made worse by a lack of adequate housing. COVID-19 impacts vulnerable New Yorkers the most: the elderly and those who are immunocompromised. For the 92,000 people who are homeless, this public health crisis puts them at a greater-than-average risk of exposure to the virus.
Many, many more cannot afford rent. New Yorkers are facing a loss of income — either voluntarily or as the result of being forced to stay home from work for the protection of everyone’s health. This makes it harder to pay already unaffordable rents. Without adequate housing, the most vulnerable New Yorkers are unable to fight COVID-19 and other deadly illnesses.
If more New Yorkers are evicted in the coming days and weeks, COVID-19 could start to spread more rapidly among those who become homeless. We cannot let that nightmare become a reality. San Francisco and San Jose are currently considering a moratorium on COVID-19 related evictions. We urge you to expand on their example and lead the nation by issuing a moratorium on evictions in the face of COVID-19 – a massive public health crisis that is hitting New York harder than most other cities in the country.
Housing Court is already unsafe for the elderly and the immunocompromised. The housing crisis is so bad that every day that court is in session, courtrooms and hallways are packed with defendants, lawyers, and supporters who are fighting eviction. To drag the most vulnerable New Yorkers into Housing Court, against the advice of public health professionals, adds the cruel insult of a severe health-risk to the injury of eviction.
Given the recommendations to cancel all large gatherings, we must remember that housing court is a large gathering. There are over a thousand people in the Bronx housing court alone, every day.
We are deeply disheartened by the callousness, ignorance and lack of action from the federal government. We need you to show leadership for the health and well-being of New Yorkers, and as an example for the nation. Our proposals are well within your power and would save the lives and homes of the city’s most vulnerable. Just yesterday Miami issued a moratorium on evictions for the entire Miami-Dade County. And there is precedent for this in NYC: after 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, NYC issued a moratorium on evictions. This crisis deserves
Stand with us in this crisis, in order to stop preventable illness, homelessness and displacement in this time of crisis, and freeze all evictions in New York NOW.
- Right to Counsel NYC Coalition
- Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY
- National Organization of Legal Services, UAW Local 2320
- CAMBA Legal Services Workers United (UAW 2325)
- Coalition for the Homeless
- Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA), New Settlement Apartments Cooper Square Committee
- Chhaya Community Development Corporation
- Housing Conservation Coordinators
- The West Side Neighborhood Alliance
- Akron Mobile Home Park Tenants Association
- Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS)
- United Neighbors Organization (UNO)
- Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
- New York Communities for Change (NYCC)
- Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC)
- The Bronx Defenders
- Red Hook Initiative
- Housing Court Answers (HCA)
- New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)
- Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD)
- District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO
- Municipal Employees Legal Services (MELS)
- New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO
- Legal Services Staff Association, NOLSW/UAW 2320
- Tenants PAC
- Woodside On The Move
- Met Council on Housing
- Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC)
- Lefrak City Tenants Association
- Housing Rights Initiative
- Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB)
- Housing Organizers for People Empowerment (HOPE)
- Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH)
- Communities Resist
- Mobilization for Justice (MFJ)
- Goddard Riverside Law Project
- Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
- Fifth AvenueCommittee, Brooklyn
- Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Brooklyn
- Crown Heights Tenant Union (CHTU)
- Flatbush Tenant Coalition
- Housing Justice for All
- Central Park Gardens Tenants’ Association
- CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
- Tenants & Neighbors
- City Employees Union Local 237 Teamsters
- Art Against Displacement
- Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side Strycker’s Bay Neighborhood Council
- The DOME Project
- Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A
- The Urban Justice Center
- JASA/Legal Services for Elder Justice
- Make the Road NY
- IMPACCT Brooklyn
- Ridgewood Tenants Union (RTU)
- Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325.
- The Legal Aid Society
- Bushwick Housing Independence Project
- GAPIMNY: Empowering Queer & Trans Asian Pacific Islanders CITIZEN ACTION
- NYS Poor People’s Campaign
Cc: Corey Johnson, City Council Speaker; Jumaane Williams, NYC Public Advocate ; Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President; Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Borough President; Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President; James Oddo, Staten Island Borough President; Steve Banks, Commissioner of the New York City Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services (HRA); Honorable Janet DiFiore, New York State Chief Judge; Dr. Oxiris Barbot, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Lorraine A. Cortés-Vázquez, Commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging; Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services