As both federal stimulus funding and New York’s eviction moratorium extension are set to expire in coming weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new program to provide housing security to tenants across the City who may be facing hardship and eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting immediately, the Citywide Landlord-Tenant Mediation Project will serve hundreds of New Yorkers each month by addressing rent-related issues in a mediation setting, outside of the housing court system, with a focus on hardest hit communities like East New York.
“As the City continues to beat back COVID-19, we must use every tool at our disposal to keep tenants safely in their homes, especially in communities that were already burdened by the affordable housing crisis,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This project will ensure that New Yorkers aren’t forced from their home during this unprecedented health and economic crisis.”
Mediation puts decision-making power in the hands of the parties involved, which results in practical solutions for both landlords and tenants. Through this project, non-profit Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CDRCs) will assist tenants and small landlords in finding solutions to rental issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to resolve cases before they reach litigation and avoid the long-term effects of an eviction proceeding which can lead to displacement for vulnerable tenants and limit future housing options. The Mediation Project will handle cases in a setting where both parties feel safe, and priority will be given to tenants and small landlords who do not have legal representation.
The Racial Inclusion & Equity Taskforce brings an equity-based approach to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. In a survey conducted among community partners in the hardest-hit neighborhoods, nearly all respondents to the Community Voices Survey cited rent burden as a primary issue facing their communities, and many articulated its systemic impacts. Housing solutions like the Mediation Project allow the City to serve as a model for other cities in creating a direct line to a holistic and fair recovery for Black and Brown communities.
The City-Wide Landlord-Tenant Mediation Project will be managed by CDRCs in coordination with Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants (MOPT), and the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit (PEU), with support from the Human Resource Administration’s Office of Civil Justice (OCJ). Eligible tenants will be referred to CDRCs in each borough, and each CDRC will manage case intake, provide mediation sessions, and monitor case follow up for tenants.
Watch the Landlord Tenant Information Session on VOICES of East New York to find out more about evictions.