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As Evictions Resume, Citizen Action Hosts Tenants' Rights Forum In BGM

BINGHAMTON (WSKG) — Citizen Action in Binghamton held a “Know Your Rights” forum for tenants on Wednesday.

In May, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the moratorium to August 20, protecting renters from COVID-related evictions. Last week, Cuomo also signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act. It ensures those New Yorkers suffering from "financial hardship" due to COVID-19 aren’t evicted.

While landlords can now file for evictions, and with fewer restrictions, the New York Office of Court Administration said in a memo on Wednesday that all eviction proceedings are on hold until further notice.

According to George Haddad of Legal Services of Central NY, New Yorkers are protected under this ruling.

“No one’s going to be going to court until August 20, and even after August 20 there’s going to be protections for people who have been affected by COVID,” Haddad said.

In June, the Urban Institute estimated 20 percent of renter households have at least one resident who lost a job since the start of the pandemic. At the forum, held both virtually and in person with social distancing, tenants at risk of eviction said it’s harder than ever to find a new place to live.

Amber Johnson, who's a community organizer with Citizen Action, said evictions can put people’s health at risk.

“Evictions are violence. They can mean the death of people and their families, especially during a health pandemic,” Johnson said.

Housing experts told The New York Times they expect to see an “avalanche” of eviction cases in the coming weeks.