With the state’s COVID-inspired moratorium on evictions set to expire in January, Newburgh City Officials are looking at a way to protect the city’s most at risk population.
“Predatory landlords exploit the most vulnerable members of this community,”said Brahvan Ranga, political coordinator for For the Many, the organization that, until recently, was known as Nobody Leaves Mid Hudson.
Ranga, who addressed the city council at last week’s work session, said landlords refuse to sign written leases with their tenants, with the intent of eviction, or an exorbitant rent increase.
“As of 2017, 31percent of the city’s residents live below the poverty line,” said Ranga, who noted that housing instability and insecurity effects all aspects of a tenants’s life.
A Good Cause Eviction Law has already been adopted in the City of Albany and one proposed for Hudson is in the final stages. Other municipalities considering the law include New Paltz, Kingston and Beacon.
The proposed law is designed to protect tenants against “unfair” rent increases.
“A rent increase of more than five percent is essentially the same as an eviction,” Ranga said.
Under the Good Cause Law, a tenant can still be evicted for not paying the rent, breaking the law or the terms of the lease, or if the landlord desires to use the property for personal use.
“Ethical landlords will not be affected,” Ranga said.
The biggest incentive for the city may be that it doesn’t have to bear the burden of enforcing the eviction law. Eviction proceedings are tried in Orange County Civil Court. A county judge will determine if the eviction is justified.
“It’s timely and it’s needed, especially when you think about the housing that’s in the City of Newburgh,” said Councilman Anthony Grice.
Councilwoman Karen Mejia said there’s really nothing to debate.
“The clock is super ticking,” she said, urging the council to enact the law before the end of the year.
No timeline for debate or adoption was introduced at the city work session, but it is expected to be on the agenda at a future council meeting.
“There is a growing need,” said Mayor Torrance Harvey. “We are very much aware of the housing crisis in the City of Newburgh.”