About 10 people with the City-Wide Tenant Union of Rochester gathered outside the Hall of Justice on Monday morning as housing courts reopened to some eviction cases.
They carried signs bearing messages such as “Eviction Free Zone” and “Resist Evictions.”
To help people during the coronavirus pandemic, eviction proceedings have been on holdsince March, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo implemented a statewide moratorium that ended June 20. Then in May, Cuomo extended the executive order until Aug. 20.
However, while the extension protects tenants who are eligible for unemployment or facing financial hardship due to the pandemic, it doesn’t prevent landlords from seeking an eviction through court order, and it doesn't protect those who cannot prove hardship or who did not qualify for unemployment.
Barbara Rivera, one of the organizers with the union, said that she showed up to put pressure on landlords to not file eviction proceedings with the court.
“I feel like they’re not the only ones who can’t afford to live somewhere. I feel like we’re all affected together,” Rivera said. “The past few months have already been tough for us. A lot of different people in different scenarios are going to be affected.”
In a statewide court memo last week, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks cited concerns over “adverse public health consequences” if there is a sudden influx of eviction cases.
Marks said that eviction cases that were issued on or before March 16 may be scheduled for virtual settlement conferences. All other eviction cases will be “stayed” or put on hold for the time being.
Rochester City Council members, including Council President Loretta Scott, voiced their concerns in late May over a possible housing crisis and wave of evictions with the end of Cuomo’s initial moratorium.