Credit: Bill Moore photo

Many cash-strapped New Yorkers got a third wind as news spread that the New York State Assembly passed Bill A7175 on Aug. 31, which extended the “COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020” and the “COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act of 2021” until Jan. 15, 2022. Elected activist and Brooklyn Assemblyman Shomari Baruti, a.k.a. Charles Barron, contends that prolonging the eviction moratorium was “a political move for [N.Y. Gov. Kathy] Hochul,” who took office last month after her predecessor’s recent resignation amid rampant sexual misconduct allegations, and impending impeachment.

“What Hochul needs to do is release the money to the people,” Baruti urged. “[The Assembly] passed, this year, $2.6 billion for rental assistance that people, and their landlords can apply for and get 12 months back-rent paid, and three months going forward.”

While appreciative, and in support of the bill, he contends that the move is equivalent to patching a bullet wound with a band aid: “They’re just kicking the can down the road, that’s not solving anything,” he argues. “Then on Jan. 15th, they’ll kick it down the road some more.”

Adding that, “We passed $1 billion for small businesses, and $600 million for mortgage assistance for landlords. There’s even $2.1 million for excluded workers: green-card holders or those who couldn’t get unemployment benefits throughout this whole period.”

So what’s the hold up? Although a minimal portion of the funding allocated for relief efforts has been distributed, political bureaucracy seems to be stifling the process.

“They’re incompetent, only releasing small amounts,” Brother Baruti indicated. “All that money is just sitting there. It’s the same colonial, capitalist system, which is maintaining poverty, unemployment and mass incarceration. Don’t be fooled by the personnel change in the governor’s office. It’s the system that needs to be changed, that maintains the same policies.”

Analysts have been predicting financial turmoil ever since the pandemic unleashed its wrath on New York City during Spring 2020. With little relief is in sight, this helps many local residents as autumn sets in on the Big Apple.

Baruti suggested that the solution is to contact ERAP [Emergency Rental Assistance Program], and “get the information to landlords and tenants, get more staff in place to help get the money to the people because they need it to pay their rent and landlords need it to pay their mortgages.”

For rental assistance contact: https://otda.ny.gov/programs/emergency-rental-assistance/