At a time when children and families need safety and stability to prepare for a new school year, thousands of families fear being evicted from their homes due to financial hardships suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Different stop-gap measures by the federal government and CDC put in place eviction moratoria that ended on July 31, 2021. A statewide moratorium was put in place in New York until August 31st. Families were on edge as they watched members of Congress fail to pass an extension even though the majority of the $436 billion in rental assistance had not been distributed to renters in need. Rep. Mondaire Jones returned to New York, after protesting the lack of an extension with Rep. Cori Bush, to continue to apply pressure in his 17th district for faster distribution of these funds.
Westchester Children’s Association joined Rep. Jones at a press conference on August 5, 2021, at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza in White Plains to push for faster distribution of emergency rental assistance funding and to create more proactive solutions for those suffering from housing insecurity. New York has yet to release most of its share in federal rent relief funding, amounting to $2.4 billion, leaving more than 150,000 people in limbo. WCA spoke up for the children and families who are more likely than households without children to have difficulty paying rent or mortgage (Household Pulse Survey) and have fewer alternative options for shelter. Elected officials such as New York State Assemblyman Chris Burdick and Westchester County Legislature Majority Leader, Ben Boykin; White Plains joined us at the press conference to support the need for better solutions for New York residents. Community activist organizations such as Community Housing Innovation, Neighbors Link Community Law Practice and Make the Road NY! were also there to rally for more housing, proactive solutions and to provide testimonials about the importance in supporting housing for long-term gains in communities. Staff members Josh, Onya, and Debbie rallied to represent WCA by making signs to emphasize the importance of homes to the health of children and families and to provide stability for children to learn.
See video recordings from the press conference on our Youtube channel here.
[Left to right] Make the Road NY! Co-Executive Director, Theo Oshiro; Westchester County Legislature Majority Leader Ben Boykin; NY Assemblyman Chris Burdick; Congressman Mondaire Jones; WCA Executive Director, Allison Lake; Community Housing Innovation Executive Director, Nicole Falkman; Ethical Culture Society of Westchester Community Voices HearLeader and Greenburgh/WP NAACP, Bart Worden; Community Voices Heard representative; and Reverend Lee Trollinger.
WCA reached out to partners to understand how the demand for safe housing has changed 18 months into this pandemic and learned that there are still vacancies at local shelters and recent openings for Section 8 housing in Westchester districts, but it is difficult to know the full extent of families at risk of homelessness due to eviction. The number of families that would be evicted depends on three factors: the speed at which rental relief is distributed, the pace of economic recovery, and the decisions made by landlords (Glynn, Market Watch). There may be a looming, larger crisis in months to come as landlords may seek to raise their rents or sell rental homes which may lead to a further shortage of homes. For those tenants who do face evictions, the odds are stacked against them. The eviction process can drag on for weeks, can tarnish the financial record of the tenants regardless of the outcome, and often may be biased in favor of landlords. Fortunately, the Westchester County Right to Counsel Coalition is pressuring the County Executive to enact a study of how many tenants get the legal support they need through a study that has already been funded in the county budget. WCA stands with the R2C Coalition in pressing George Latimer to use those funds so that the county can get a more accurate idea of the needs of tenants and how best to balance the legal process.
Find more resources for help and information below:
- Emergency Rental Relief COVID-19 for Westchester County residents and landlords
- Westchester County Right to Counsel Coalition
- Standard Hardship Declaration Form for New York
- CDC Eviction Moratorium Q&A from The Legal Aid Society
- COVID-19 Helpful Links and FAQs from Homes and Community Renewal
READ OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS eBULLETIN:
- Back-to-school mental health and remote learning trends for 2021
- Upcoming, online-only Annual Report for 2020
- How can we do better? Help us update you and work better with you
Find past eBulletin editions here.
Published August 18, 2021