The mayor’s office cannot legally place a moratorium on evictions, but the city has services to help tenants who are affected the economic fallout of COVID-19.
Programs also has a program to assist landlords who want to make minor repairs to vacant units so those can be added to the list of affordable units.
Mayor Lovely Warren addressed the issue of evictions during a news conference Nov. 19. She said that while the state still is blocking evictions based on pandemic hardship, proceedings that predate COVID-19 have been allowed to resume.
“If you were in the queue prior to the pandemic to be evicted, those evictions have been lifted and you can be taken to court,” she said.
Rochester has nothing in its city charter that allows for a housing court, Warren said. She said the state legislature would have to grant the city that ability, and then it would have to be added to the charter.
She said the city’s law department is looking into the matter. For now, the city court has to follow mandates from chief judge.
However, individuals facing eviction have some recourse.
The city dedicated $6.8 million in CARES Act funding toward eviction prevention and homelessness. Of that money, $4.2 million is direct rent assistance.
As of mid-November, the city has received 3,807 applications for rental assistance, with close to $750,000 having been distributed to tenants.
In addition, funds have also been allocated for legal assistance for residents facing eviction, emergency repair assistance, foreclosure prevention and landlord grants to rehab vacant units. Information is at www.cityofrochester.gov/renthelp.
In September, the city, county and the Seventh Judicial District of the state court system announced formation of Monroe County Special COVID Intervention Part to streamline landlord-tenant cases and link people facing eviction with legal and housing support. Applicants for that program can call 211.