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Thousands of eviction cases filed in the Capital Region during the pandemic

Oct 11, 2021 5:45 am

Emilie Munson and Leigh Hornbeck are reporting for the Times Union landlords took legal action to evict more than 4,000 tenants in the Capital Region during the pandemic, according to information released by the New York court system. An eviction moratorium has been in place since the start of the pandemic and in New York, tenants will continue to be shielded until January 15. But housing advocates worry that after the moratorium is lifted, a surge of evictions could put thousands of state residents out of their homes. Statewide, landlords filed nearly 114,000 eviction cases from March 1, 2020 until October 4, 2021, court data shows. That number is down from 262,400 commercial and residential eviction cases filed in 2019 statewide. Thirty-five percent of all eviction cases filed during the pandemic were filed in New York City, specifically in Bronx, Kings, Queens or New York counties. But the Capital Region, which includes Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties, was another hotspot for eviction cases. During the pandemic, 4,050 evictions were filed by landlords in Albany County. The area of Troy south of Lansingburgh and the town of Brunswick, had the highest number of eviction cases filed during the pandemic of any ZIP code outside of the New York City metropolitan area. Landlords filed 613 eviction cases there. Other high eviction areas include the Mansion area, Krank Park, Cherry Hill and Mount Hope in Albany, as well the area of the city from West Hill to Upper Washington Avenue and the SUNY Albany campus. Michelle Arthur, executive director of the United Tenants of Albany said the numbers were higher than she expected, but the areas where evictions are highest are in places that have historically had higher eviction rates, like the South End and West Hill, where the residents are often more vulnerable and have access to fewer resources. Tenants are currently protected from eviction if they can prove they have not been able to pay rent due to a hardship related to COVID-19, but landlords can challenge a tenant's claims, as long as they have proof the tenant could be paying rent. With a brisk pace of filings of eviction cases, the Legal Aid Society hired more lawyers in Albany to handle cases to cover eviction court in Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer and Schenectady counties, using funding from federal coronavirus legislation, Robert Romaker, the managing attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern NY, said. Each of the 11 attorneys has 20 to 40 cases, Romaker estimated. Read the full story in the Times Union.

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