On Friday, New York City Housing Authority Chairman John Rhea placed a moratorium on public housing evictions through the end of the year, reported the New York Daily News.
Now, NYCHA residents left without electricity and heat behind the fallout of Hurricane Sandy – officials estimated a total of 81,000 tenants in 421 buildings – can breath at least one sigh of relief during the holidays.
Initially, on Monday, Rhea promised to extend a credit to residents who incurred extra expenses and had to live without heat, hot water, elevators and power as a result of Sandy. But that credit would not be available until January, and until then, said Rhea, residents were still on the hook for their full rent.
By Wednesday, although electricity had been restored to all of New York City’s public housing developments, Rhea came under fire for continuing to hold the more than 15,000 residents still without heat public accountable for rent.
"The failure to adequately provide heat, hot water and electricity in [New York City Housing Authority] buildings in a timely fashion is a scandal that is growing in proportion by the day," Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries told the Wall Street Journal.
By Friday, Rhea circled back on his original statement, promising the Housing Authority will not evict rent-tardy tenants through the end of the year, even with delayed payments.
The break will remain in place until Jan. 1 — the date the rent credit kicks in. The agency also agreed to postpone Housing Court cases that predate Sandy for tenants hurt by the hurricane, reported the paper.