Number of Americans who File for Unemployment Plunges, Mayor Still Focuses on Tenants’ Rights to Not be Evicted for Non-Payment of Rent

Number of Americans who File for Unemployment Plunges, Mayor Still Focuses on Tenants’ Rights to Not be Evicted for Non-Payment of Rent

By Yehudit Garmaise

Despite the US Labor Market numbers that reveal the number of Americans who are filing for new unemployment benefits is approaching the 200,000 new claims per week the US saw before the pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio continues to emphasize that he wants to make sure that no one in New York City is ever “illegally evicted,” which seems to include people who do not or cannot pay their rent. 

“We know a lot of New Yorkers have struggled during this pandemic,” the mayor said yesterday before promoting the Right-to-Counsel law the city passed under his administration, before the pandemic.

 “One of the biggest issues for people has been just trying to keep their lives together with all these challenges, and that starts with keeping a roof over their heads: making sure that their families knew they would have housing, despite all the disruptions, all the challenges we've gone through.

“A labor of love for so many people in my administration to help make sure that no one is ever illegally evicted in this city.”

The mayor, however, did not yet define what constitutes illegal eviction, as it seems non-payment of rent does not, in his mind, warrant eviction.

“No one ever loses their home when there's any way to keep them in it appropriately and protect what a family has,” the mayor said. “And we decided a long time ago to provide legal counsel to New Yorkers in need to make sure that their rights were protected, to make sure tenants were not unfairly treated particularly when they went to court.”

But back in September, New York’s largest landlord group, the Rent Stabilization Association RSA), successfully argued in the US Supreme Court against the eviction moratorium that President Donald Trump created in March 2020 to accommodate for financial hardships during the pandemic.

After the moratorium was twice-renewed, and President Joe Biden planned to continue it in 2022, RSA representatives successfully argued n the US Supreme Court against the legality of continuing to disallow evictions, as landlords had been collectively losing $19 billion a month.

However, Mayor de Blasio continues to worry only about the financial hardships of the tenants, when most Americans have returned to work and no reason seems to exist for tenants now not to be able to pay their rent, in exchange for room and the services landlords provide.

“When you give someone counsel, and you give someone a lawyer who wouldn't have it otherwise to defend their rights, good things happen,” said the mayor, who did not seem to be offering legal counsel to the landlords who are still expected not to evict tenants who do not pay their rent.

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