ALABAMA — With the U.S. Supreme Court having struck down President Joe Biden’s eviction moratorium, Sen. Charles Schumer was asked Wednesday during a visit to the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) site in the town of Alabama what the federal government is doing to address the issue.
Schumer said he has spoken to Gov. Kathy Hochul, Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie and state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and urged them to convene a session and extend the moratorium.
“Right now, the focus is on the state,” he said. “I worked very hard to get New York $2 billion to help tenants pay their rents when they lost their jobs or got greatly cut back in their pay because of COVID. That money, New York didn’t distribute very well.”
Schumer said one of the first things Hochul said when he called her was “I’m going to get that money out.”
Schumer said, “Once you’re kicked out of your house, it’s a terrible thing ... There’s not only money for rent, there’s money for mortgages for people who might lose their homes as well.”
State lawmakers were in session Wednesday and Hochul reportedly wanted them to consider extending the moratorium until Jan. 15. It expired Tuesday.
“Getting the money out is very important and the governor is focused on that,” Schumer said.
State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, issued a statement opposing the legislation being taken up in the special session of the state Assembly.
Hawley said he was frustrated that this moratorium has been extended multiple times, even as the state government sits on the majority of $2.6 billion in federal funding meant to address the issue, having distributed only 10% of those funds to tenants and landlords in need.
“If we do not do something to help our small landlords in this crucial moment, they may well go extinct within the housing market if forced to sell their property to large conglomerates to escape crushing debts which they cannot collect rent to pay,” said Hawley.
More often than not, he said, small landlords are retired people with families to feed, tax and mortgage bills to pay and properties that take time, money and hard work to maintain.
“To think we would ask them to continue to absorb the brunt of this housing crisis after holding on for roughly a year and a half now is absurd, especially when incompetency in our executive branch has kept money out of the pockets of the tenants and landlords that truly need it,” he said in his statement. “Had we acted with any reasonable speed or efficacy in distributing the federal assistance that’s been sat on since January, we would not need to be debating this matter now.”