Proponents of ‘good cause’ deportation slam Newburgh lawsuit



NEWBURGH — Since May, the Hudson Valley Justice Center has opened 137 cases in Newburgh where it is offering free legal representation to low-income tenants facing eviction, according to Jason Mays, deputy director of the Hudson Valley Justice Center.

“We haven’t even been able to assign lawyers to all the cases,” May told reporters and housing advocates gathered for a news conference outside Newburgh Town Hall on Tuesday.

And it’s not a problem that happened overnight.

Prior to the 2019 pandemic, Mays said, landlords filed 781 eviction claims in Newburgh City Court. “So that’s an eviction case for one in nine tenants in the city. That seems pretty shocking to me,” Mays said at the press conference. “I would say it’s an epidemic of deportation cases.”

Jason Mays, deputy director of the Hudson Valley Justice Center, speaks at a news conference in Newburgh September 27 in which supporters of the city’s ‘for cause’ eviction law condemned a legal action brought by owners.

Lana Bellamy/Times Union

Currently, 70% of the nearly 30,000 people living in Newburgh are tenants. Census data from last year indicates there were nearly 7,000 renter households in the city of about 30,000 people, according to Mays.

As Mays shared the data, activists, tenants and elected officials organized by local social justice group For the Many stood behind him, holding signs with sayings like “People Over Profit” and “Housing For the Many.” “. They were there to show their support for the city’s ‘for good reason’ eviction law, which is currently underway. disputed in the Supreme Court of Orange County by a group of Newburgh landlords.

Orange County Legislator Genesis Ramos, Poughkeepsie Common Council Majority Leader Evan Menist and Beacon Council Member Justice McCray joined Newburgh Council Members Anthony Grice and Giselle Martinez at the presser for show solidarity.

For the Many has lobbied for local “good cause” laws to be passed in Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Beacon, Kingston and other mid-Hudson municipalities, arguing it strengthens protections for tenants from predatory landlords looking to raise the rent or evict them without a good reason.

Newburgh’s law caps rent increases at 5% and sets out the conditions under which landlords can evict tenants. Evictions can still occur under certain circumstances, such as if tenants violate a clause in their lease or if they use the property to commit a crime.

Councilor Giselle Martinez speaks at a press conference organized by For the Many on September 27 outside Newburgh Town Hall.  Newburgh supporters "good cause" eviction law rallied to condemn a lawsuit by landlords challenging local law.

Councilor Giselle Martinez speaks at a press conference organized by For the Many on September 27 outside Newburgh Town Hall. Supporters of Newburgh’s ‘for good reason’ eviction legislation have rallied to condemn a lawsuit brought by landlords challenging the local law.

Proposed by For the greatest number

Albany was the first municipality in New York to pass such legislation, in July 2021. Three months later, Newburgh became the second. An in-depth housing study conducted by the Leviticus Fund in partnership with consultant Kevin Dwarka and the Pace Land Use Law Center recommended Newburgh adopt eviction legislation ‘for good reason’ to prevent homelessness .

But a few months after Albany was sued in December by landlords seeking to overturn its law, a small group of landlords sued legal challenge at Newburgh.

“These trials are attempts by greedy slum-mongers to override the will of the people,” said Daniel Atonna, political coordinator of For the Many. “Tenants are the majority. Evictions for cause passed unanimously in Newburgh. Landlords are not the majority.”

The lawsuit was brought by a number of landlords whose identities are obscured by LLCs, as well as Michael Acevedo, a controversial landlord and president of the Orange County Landlord Association. The three LLCs on the suit are HYH Newburgh, M&N Newburgh Development and 160 Grand Owners. They are represented by Troy-based attorney Benjamin Neidl of the law firm E.Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy, who is also representing the owners in the case against Albany.

Newburgh supporters "good cause" The Eviction Law rallied outside City Hall on September 27 to condemn a lawsuit filed by landlords challenging the ordinance.

Supporters of Newburgh’s ‘for good reason’ evictions law gathered outside City Hall on September 27 to condemn a lawsuit brought by landlords challenging the ordinance.

Lana Bellamy/Times Union

The main argument in both lawsuits is that local laws prevail over state laws already in place to protect tenants. State Supreme Court Justice Christina L. Ryba struck down Albany in a June 30 ruling. The city of Albany appealed that decision in July, and a mid-level state court ordered that local law remain in effect until a decision on the appeal is rendered, which does not won’t happen until at least next year.

The Newburgh owners are seeking summary judgment from the state Supreme Court.

Last month, in the Newburgh case, For the Many and Community Voices Heard signed a amicus brief submitted by legal experts from Hudson Valley Legal Services, Hudson Valley Justice Center and Legal Aid Society. They argued that Newburgh’s ordinance falls short of state housing laws, levels the playing field between landlords and tenants, and prevents homelessness.

The debate over whether municipal “good cause” laws prevail over state housing laws has led defenders push for the passage of a statewide eviction law “for good reason”.

Atonna said that if the governor, assembly speaker or majority leader supported the legislation, “it would pass easily.”

“They don’t even have to wait until January – they could call a special session right now,” he said. “Don’t let them act helpless to protect tenants. Our state officials should show as much courage as the elected officials here behind me.”

Source link


About Author

Comments are closed.