Originally published on 08.01.2020
COVID-19’s economic effects are currently being contained by a variety of safeguards. Keeping a roof over one’s head during times of financial struggle is always a stressful priority, but in our pandemic times it is vital that people stay in their homes to contain the spread of COVID-19. Renters who have suffered a hit to their finances due to COVID-19 are currently safe from eviction thanks to the Tenant Safe Harbor Act (NY Senate Bill: S8192B, NY Assembly Bill: A10290) that protects tenants who have suffered economic hardship from eviction during the COVID-19 covered period. However, this doesn’t forgive unpaid rent, which under the current conditions will have to be paid.
On August 10, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the launch of the NYC Tenant Resource Portal, the city’s first-ever online resource to help residential renters access free resources from the City to help prevent evictions and keep tenants stably housed. The portal, launched through Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants (MOPT), the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit (PEU), and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), features an eviction prevention tool to help renters navigate free public and private resources that can stabilize their housing situations.
The portal is free and accessible to all residential tenants. Tenants will respond to a series of questions about their unique circumstances and be directed to the most relevant resources, such as help navigating an illegal lockout or eviction. The portal also has up-to-date information on the general status of evictions in New York City Housing Court. Tenants who do not have access to the internet can call 311 and ask for the “Tenant Helpline,” which was launched in partnership with 311 and HRA’s Office of Civil Justice (OCJ) in April of this year, where they will be connected to a PEU Tenant Support Specialist to receive free, individualized assistance
Prior to this the city offered an emergency rental assistance program accepted applications from mid-July through August 6. This program was funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which is part of the CARES Act and would provide up to four months of assistance covering the increased rent burden suffered by individuals and families in the greatest need who lost wages between April 2020–July 2020; payments will be paid directly to the landlord. You can find information about this program here. At this time other sites that may be of assistance are: Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) Program Notices COVID-19 and NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) Rental Relief
On August 8, 2020 President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order addressing protections for renters. Sec. 3 addresses evictions, however it states, “The Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of CDC shall consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 from one State or possession into any other State or possession.” Also, one of the general provisions says, “This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.”
North Brooklyn Residents in need of housing counseling may call St. Nicks Alliance’s Community Preservation at 718-388-9190 ext 690.
Dated material appearing in the original piece: According to a July 23, 2020 Gothamist piece there were many obstacles encountered while applying online. St. Nicks Alliance is offering application assistance at 718-388-9190 ext. 690. They also have put out a fact sheet in English and Spanish to clarify the eligibility requirements.
Article originally published on July 27, 2020