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COVID extends eviction moratoriums again


New Yorkers having difficulty paying their rent got some relief this week. Monday was the day the state's eviction moratorium expired, but that deadline has been moved to May 1.
No one knows how many families would be faced with eviction if the moratorium were to suddenly end. Landlords probably aren’t bothering to try, since the courts are only allowing a few special cases.

"The ability of courts to hear cases has really been challenged during the pandemic," said Neighborhood Legal Services Deputy Director Grace Andriette. "It’s not just the fact that the law has changed. It’s also that the court’s ability to hold virtual hearings or any court’s ability to hold virtual hearings has been challenged."

Until an eviction is final, Andriette said tenants are to be treated as if they were paying.

"To provide utilities, if utilities are included in the rent, to make sure that the furnace continues to work, that the hot water tank continues to work," she said. "And the building and code enforcement personnel throughout the counties we serve, they continue to work during the pandemic, especially in the situations where people lack water or lack heat."

Total numbers have yet to be reported, but Andriette said many, many people are hurting, jobless and ill.

"Many people are not able to work and many people have also become ill themselves and that’s created a detriment," she said. "In addition, expenses have gone up for many people. You know when your children are home all day and perhaps not getting the school lunch or when you’re running the utilities all day to make sure that it’s warm."

Andriette said her agency usually handles 6,000-7,000 evictions annually in the five counties it serves. Now, that caseload is well below that because of the state moratorium and a related federal moratorium through March 31.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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