During this time of crisis, our Legislature went on recess until April 13. They made no accommodations for meeting remotely, as other elected bodies have done. They abdicated their responsibility to act to protect their constituents during this time of crisis. They say they will return on April 13th to legislate — or maybe not. Meanwhile, in New York, legislators have introduced a bill to immediately suspend and forgive rents and mortgages during this time of crisis.
There must be an immediate moratorium on rent increases, evictions, and foreclosures.
The need to protect residents who live paycheck to paycheck from the economic fallout of this virus includes protecting them against facing price gouging, eviction, and homelessness. The state also needs to take action to ensure that people who can not now pay rent during this crisis are protected from eviction in the future for this current inability to pay rent.
- The Legislature must immediately pass legislation that directs all County and City Marshals and Sheriffs to cease evicting people and executing writs of possession until further notice. These efforts should extend long enough to ensure people remain stably housed in the recovery period after the state of emergency is lifted.
- The Legislature must immediately enact legislation to ban all eviction notices, invalidate unexpired notices, and stop new eviction cases from being filed. No moratorium is complete if eviction cases are only delayed to a more convenient time for landlords and tenants are made legally liable when their notices expire.
- The Legislature must immediately enact emergency legislation to ban rent increases, even minimal ones, during this time.
The Legislature must enact legislation to suspend and forgive rents and mortgages.
Even before this crisis, millions of low-income people were already living rent- burdened, from paycheck to paycheck, on the brink of eviction, and being forced into homelessness. With no current plan in place, many residents have no paid leave, no savings, no job security, and are being laid off as we speak. Even temporary foreclosure and eviction moratoriums will require homeowners and renters to pay back what will become insurmountable debts. We can’t afford these interconnected economic and health crises. The only solution that will actually protect renters and homeowners alike is to suspend and forgive mortgage and rental payments now, as has been done in other countries.
- The Legislature must immediately enact legislation to suspend and forgive all rent and mortgage payments. This must continue for the duration of this crisis, including a recovery period. Mortgages should not accrue interest.
- The Legislature must ensure that there is financial support for non-profit housing providers to remain sustainable and able to continue to provide housing.
The Legislature must enact legislation that prohibits utility shut-offs and rate increases, halt application of late fees, and re-institute services immediately.
Widespread loss of income will cause some of the most vulnerable individuals and families to fall behind on payments for basic services including water, gas, internet, phone service and electricity. All public and private utilities and service providers should be prohibited from shutting off service, increasing rates, or applying late fees during the public health crisis. Shutting off utilities will increase suffering and economic instability while also undermining public health goals by preventing appropriate sanitation and dislocating people from homes. Accordingly, all public and private utilities doing business in the state should halt all utility shut-offs and related fees during this crisis.
The Legislature must enact legislation that provides for a just transition during and after this pandemic.
- Provide emergency funds now and long-term funding to create and maintain social housing and for non-profit housing providers. Public housing agencies and other housing providers must have the necessary resources to keep residents safe and healthy during this crisis.
- Long term resources should be provided to build and maintain a robust social housing stock to create a permanent source of safe and affordable housing for all people.
The time for temporary fixes to our housing crisis is long past. We need permanent housing solutions to end homelessness and housing insecurity for everyone.