By Alberto Gilman
For The Many [FTM] organizers and supporters gathered in front of Newburgh City Hall on Tuesday, September 26, to discuss the appeal made by landlords and other development groups on the Good Cause Eviction law in the City of Newburgh.
The Good Cause Eviction law, as stated by FTM Political Coordinator Daniel Atonna, provides protections to tenants from being evicted by their landlords without good cause or reason and protects the tenants from the increases in rent. However, evictions can still take place which can be caused by failing to pay rent, damaging the property or violating the agreements in place. Good Cause is still active in the City of Newburgh and continues to protect tenants.
On October 25, 2021, the city council held a public hearing on the Good Cause Eviction law at the Recreation Center where residents, several landlords, and additional stakeholders were given, over the course of two hours, the opportunity to comment on the law. The city council passed the law with a six member favor vote with one abstention. The law is nearing one year since its passage in the coming weeks.
Similar to the Newburgh, Good Cause was passed in Albany and with the help of FTM, the law passed in the Cities of Poughkeepsie, Kingston and Beacon, according to Atonna.
FTM Community Organizer Rene Mejia Jr. also joined his colleague in sharing some words during the press conference. “Here we are, again today [Tuesday, September 26, 2022], because we have landlords who think their profits outweigh our rights. I’m thankful that we have council members, legislators that can stand in support of Good Cause Eviction,” said Mejia Jr.
On February 28, 2022, a lawsuit was filed by E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy LLP, of Troy, NY against the City of Newburgh. HYH Newburgh LLC, M&N Newburgh Development LLC, 160 Grand Owners LLC and Michael Acevedo, who did not wish to provide any comments when contacted, are listed in the lawsuit and are represented by Benjamin Neidl of the firm.
The argument for the appeal is that the Good Cause Eviction law preempted laws in the State of New York that are already in place to protect tenants and in addition, the lawsuit argues that the passage of the local law in the city is null and void.
Joining FTM were City officials Councilman Anthony Grice, Councilman Omari Shakur, Councilwoman Giselle Martinez, Orange County Legislator Genesis Ramos, City of Beacon Councilman Justice McCray and Poughkeepsie Common Council Majority Leader Evan Menist.
“It’s no secret we’re in a housing crisis. When it comes to common sense legislation, that is what Good Cause Eviction is. This is adding extra protection for our tenants who are part of our most vulnerable population,” said Martinez. “Newburgh did its part in passing this at the municipal level, however, the real fight is at the state legislature.”
We do want landlords to be able to make a profit, we understand that, but we’re going to put people over profit,” said Grice.
“Landlords who treat their tenants with the dignity and the respect that they deserve, are not and should not be worried about Good Cause Eviction,” said Ramos. “It is the slumlords who have been taking advantage of tenants in our community and surrounding communities, who should be worried about Good Cause Eviction, and that is why they’re trying to stop it.”
Also joining the FTM press conference was Jason Mays, Deputy Director for the Hudson Valley Justice Center. The Justice Center offers free legal representation to anyone who is below a certain income level according to Mays. Referencing American Community Survey [ACS] Five Year Data, Mays stated during the conference that there were 6,969 tenant households in 2020.
In 2019, according to Mays, there were 781 eviction petitions filed in the city court by landlords. That is one in nine tenant households in the city. In addition, Mays shared that his office has opened up 137 cases since May 2022.
“These evictions are detrimental to people. They disrupt people’s community ties. If a tenant has to move, if they can’t find a comfortable apartment in the area, they might lose a job,” Mays said. “Feel free to contact us [Hudson Valley Justice Center] if anyone has any need for representation. We’ll do what we can.”
The adopted law in the city can be found in Chapter 240 titled “Rental Properties” under Article III titled “Eviction Without Good Cause” at ecode360.com/12513127. More information about the Justice Center can be found at hvjc.org/.