The City Council designated more than $12 million in Fiscal Year 2021 budget to support various housing initiatives, including tenant advocacy and eviction prevention programs as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath
New York, NY – Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Housing and Buildings Committee Chair Robert Cornegy today announced that the City Council is funding several programs to provide relief to both renters and homeowners, which are now needed more than ever as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating financial impacts to New Yorkers. These programs provide anti-eviction services for renters and help mitigate foreclosures for homeowners. Services include housing court assistance for tenants, foreclosure prevention programming, and legal and financial assistance to develop and expand the community land trust model citywide.
The FY 2021 budget includes more than $12 million to fund programs for renters and homeowners, including more than $3.1 million for housing preservation initiatives, more than $3.2 million for foreclosure prevention programs, and over $2.5 million for Stabilizing NYC, an initiative put in place to combat the loss of affordable housing at the hands of predatory equity companies.
This is a critical time to provide relief to renters, especially communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers lost their jobs or were furloughed because of the coronavirus, and many will soon face eviction proceedings once the moratorium on evictions for those affected by the pandemic expires on August 20, and housing courts begin to reopen. In addition, the extra $600 week unemployment benefits as part of the federal stimulus package (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation) ends this Friday, July 31, putting economically vulnerable renters further at risk of displacement.
“We had a housing and affordability crisis before COVID-19 hit. We can’t let this pandemic make a horrific situation catastrophic. We worked together to flatten the curve, now let’s work together to prevent unnecessary evictions and homelessness. We need to stabilize our neighborhoods and keep on fighting to ensure New York City is affordable for all,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
“More affordability and more housing security are touchstones of a housing policy that serves all New Yorkers, said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. “The investments we announce take important steps forward in serving those aims. We make important investments in community-based organizations that provide education and legal services for renters and homeowners. We provide for onramps to emergency loan programs to help homeowners in crisis. We shore up pathways towards permanent affordable housing in the future through community land trusts. Collectively, these investments in housing will grant greater peace of mind to countless New Yorkers and help keep our shared communities whole.”
“These millions of dollars in funding will help keep New Yorkers safe and in their homes during the pandemic,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Committee on Finance. “Evictions and foreclosures pose tremendous burdens on tenants and homeowners during ‘normal’ times; during a public health emergency, these experiences are downright terrifying. Tenants and homeowners need relief, and they need it now. I am pleased to work alongside Speaker Johnson, Chair Gibson and Chair Cornegy on this timely effort which will serve as a lifeline to many of NYC’s most impacted families.”
“COVID-19 devastated our city and targeted our most vulnerable populations,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, Chair of Subcommittee on Capital Budget. “Even as things slowly start to improve, it is essential that we continue to provide relief to our renters and homeowners that were hardest hit by the pandemic. The anti-eviction services and foreclosure assistance that were funded in the FY ‘21 budget is the first step in ensuring that there is critical support for residents once the moratorium is lifted on August 20th and eviction proceedings resume. I want to thank Speaker Corey Johnson, my colleague Council Member Robert Cornegy and all of my other colleagues in the Council that advocated for this important piece of funding during a very difficult budget season.”
“We are extremely grateful for the funding from the New York City Council and applaud Speaker Johnson and Housing Committee Chair Cornegy for their continued support of eviction prevention services. Council funding allows our hotline to continue providing up-to-date information on the eviction moratorium and the Housing Courts to tenants and small landlords. Housing Court Answers talks to over 150 callers a day to help them get rent arrears assistance, emergency access to the courts and legal help. The New York City Council support will be a huge part of keeping New Yorkers housed during this pandemic,” said Jenny Laurie, Executive Director, Housing Court Answers.
“The City’s investment in foreclosure prevention is critical to stabilizing homeowners and their renters, particularly in communities of color, who have been among the hardest-hit from the coronavirus crisis,” said Christie Peale, CEO/Executive Director for the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “Thank you to the Council, Speaker Johnson, and Buildings Committee Chair Robert Cornegy for ensuring that our homeowners have a place to turn during this difficult time.”
Among the initiatives that the City Council funds are:
Community Housing Preservation Strategies: The City Council designated more than $3.1 million to support community-based organizations implement neighborhood-based strategies to combat the loss of affordable housing. This program supports 50 organizations that work in areas that include tenant organizing, housing court assistance, code enforcement advocacy, apartment repossession and additional housing public education campaigns.
Stabilizing NYC: This initiative focuses on defending low-income tenants from harassment and eviction in buildings owned by private companies that engage in predatory equity. It assists tenants to fight bogus eviction cases and holds landlords accountable for lack of repairs in their buildings. The City Council designated a little over $2.5 million for this programming.
Housing Court Answers: The City Council designated $650,000 to support anti-eviction education and referral services at the City’s housing courts. The initiative offers counseling and connects tenants and small landlords seeking assistance to legal services in housing court.
Foreclosure Prevention Programs: This Council initiative provides funding to the Neighborhood Restore Housing Development Fund and the Center for New York City Neighborhoods for foreclosure prevention programs. These programs assist homeowners with legal and loan remediation assistance, the purchase of distressed mortgage notes, foreclosure prevention counseling, mortgage modifications, outreach, education, training, and advocacy regarding subprime lending and mortgage foreclosures. The Council designated over $3.2 million this year.
Community Land Trust Initiative: The City Council designated $637,500 to support community-based organizations that work on a neighborhood level to develop and expand the community land trust model citywide, a model that focuses on preserving affordable housing through nonprofit ownership of the land. The programming includes legal and financial assistance to establish community land trust models.
Home Loan Program: The City Council designated $1.7 million for emergency Home Loan repairs. Of this amount, $850,000 will support the Home Emergency Loan Program, known as Project HELP, which is administered by the Housing and Preservation Department (HPD) and the Housing Services Organizations (NHS). The program offers direct, low-interest home improvement loans to property owners of one-to-four-family homes across the City. Loans can be used for emergency repairs, such as roofs leaks, water main breaks and heating system repairs. Additionally, the Council designated $850,000 to the Center for New York City Neighborhoods to provide financial and technical assistance to additional homeowners seeking repair loans in cooperation with HPD and NHS.