St. Lawrence County calls on state to help landlords burdened by eviction moratorium
BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week
St. Lawrence County Legislators called on state officials to provide relief to landlords who have been shouldering costs of unpaid rent throughout the pandemic.
St. Lawrence County Legislator James E. Reagen. R-Ogdensburg, said that a state moratorium on evictions has left the landlords holding the bag and that it’s time for the state to fix the problem it created.“There are literally thousands of rental units in St. Lawrence County who’s owners who have not received any rent for going on over a year. There are utility companies that are not being paid. There are families that are facing evictions,” Reagen said. “It is imperative that the state of New York, which created this problem; address this problem by releasing the funds that have been provided to address this problem that the government created.”
Reagen said at his last check, that only three landlords have received money although hundreds have applied.
The process the state is using to dole out federal funds to address the issue requires joint filing by landlords and tenants and has been largely unsuccessful.
Reagen said that landlords are still being saddled with taxes despite the fact they aren’t receiving payments.
“It’s a matter of simple fairness and simple equity,” he said. “They still have to pay taxes, they’ve been picking up the tab.”
John Burke, R-Norfolk, asked to be added as a co-sponsor and thanked Reagen for bringing the issue forward.
Margaret Haggard, D-Potsdam, agreed.
“I’m certainly all in favor of the people, both the renters and landlords, getting their money,” she said. “I will support this because I know here in Potsdam there are a lot of people in that predicament.”
Legislator Rita Curran, R-Massena, said echoed Reagen’s sentiment that this problem was created by the government and needed to be solved by the government.
Finance Committee Chairman Kevin Acres, R-Madrid, said he believes the state has already received millions of dollars from the federal government for this but have not released it.
Reagen said he also believed that was the case.
Reagen has raised concerns about the issue in the past. He urged the county to work with landlords and tenants the help with the state’s current relief program, and while the county did push the program it seems to have been largely unsuccessful.
"The Board of Legislators calls upon New York State Governor Kathy Hochul and the Commissioner of the Office of Temporary Disabilities Assistance to Expedite the Release of Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) Funding to Provide Relief to those Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic Eviction Restrictions and the Eviction Moratorium," the resolution says.