Category Archives: Financial Justice

New Housing Law in New York Having Huge Impact on Tenant Evictions

New Orleans       The Wall Street Journal and its reporters must get a special thrill when they can score an exclusive on the New York Times on New York’s own turf.  I bet they didn’t even care when they went out to celebrate last week at their local watering hole that their billionaire owner, Rupert Murdoch, and all the landlords who read their paper were probably seething as they went line by line reading about the huge benefits the new housing law in New York State was having for tenants.  Their tenants are not big readers of the Journal, but even though they may not have seen the article, they still celebrated.  The difference was that they stayed home, rather than going out, because the big news was that they were not being evicted.

One of the most profound results of the new law has been the almost 50% drop in evictions being filed in New York City’s housing court.   The new law instructed landlords to wait fourteen days rather than three days before evicting for nonpayment or late payment.  According to the Journal’s review of the statistics for the New York City boroughs, “New eviction cases against city tenants for nonpayment of rent are down by more than 35,000 since the law was signed on June 14, compared with the same period in 2018, a drop of 46%….”  The new law also gave tenants more time to respond, all of which has seems to have slowed down the eviction happy landlords who assumed they could threaten someone with housing court and be done with it, and then raise the rents to escape rent control restricts.  Holdover cases on minor lease infraction claims are also reportedly down by 11% as landlords try to figure out how to get the upper hand again under this new 74-page law that closed many of the loopholes they had enjoyed in the past.

Some of the impact is more New York City than universal.  There have been huge increases in legal protection for tenants in the housing court under Mayor DeBlasio.  Admittedly these changes were enacted before the new law, but it has to be a factor in slowing them down now while they figure the angles.  Additionally, there is a “look back” provision on previous repairs and rent increases that is peculiar to NYC rent control that wouldn’t exist in other cities, preventing us from comparing every orange city to the Big Apple.

Nonetheless, the point is impossible to miss.  Making the law fairer and giving tenants real rights and protections does in fact slow evictions and protect affordable housing.  Preventing landlords from playing gotcha on the least little things and perp walking them into courts keeps tenants in their units and lets them work things out with their landlords.

It’s pretty clear already that cities and states in the US and abroad as well need to study the new law and see what they can put in place locally.  For sure tenants and our organizations are now going over it with a fine-toothed comb.


There’s No App for Child Care Deserts

New Orleans       When I hit a dead spot where I can’t listen to WAMF 90.3, our community radio station in New Orleans, I will switch for a minute or two to the stations to the left or right of the dial.  There was a discussion on something the broadcaster was calling a “child care desert,” as it turned out, but what I was hearing in the beginning was the standard Silicon Valley-style gospel that there’s “an app for that.”

There were several startups trying to pitch applications that would match parents desperate for child care with people willing and able to provide it.  Their angle involved two channels of recruitment.  On one side they were advertising for would-be small entrepreneurs, largely women, many of them bound to the house with their on small children in their own parched child care desert.  These apps would help them through the process of licensure and set up, and then also help them locate parents looking for that service.  The app-people’s business model was based on taking 10% of the monthly payment for each child enrolled in the new childcare operation.  The woman being interviewed was six-months into the system.  She and her husband had spent $15,000 outfitting their basement in one our western states.  She was now licensed to handle six children, one of whom was her on child.  She was charging $1000 per month, so her gross would have been $5000 minus $500, and then the rest of the expenses of paying back the home loan, food, supplies, and whatever.  She was working alone, and the hours were way over forty per week.  Maybe she was making half of that as her salary, let’s say $2250, which would put her at around $27,000 gross in the best of circumstances, and of course she was accruing some value by having her own child in her own child care.   She said she was Ok, but she didn’t pretend it was heaven.

According to the most recent report by the Center for American Progress (CAP) a year ago on child care deserts, it’s not pretty for parents in America looking for child care, if they can find it.  They define child care deserts as areas where there are fewer than one provider for every three children under five years of age.  Rural areas have it worse with 59% of the US census tracts in such deserts, but urban areas are right behind at 56% experiencing this situation in their census tracts.  They don’t count childcare provided by friends, parents and grandparents because it is statistically uncertain and unmeasured.  They find women’s unemployment is 3% less in census tracts with child care shortages like these.

Cost is out of control.  $1000 a month per child is a lot of money unless you’re making a pile.  Combine that with low wages for both workers and parents, and this has the making of a child care disaster more than a desert.  Little wonder families are having less children and waiting later when they do so.  We aren’t hearing as much during this election cycle about child care for all as we did in 2016, but this is a huge problem in search of a big solution.