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Transcript: Mayor Adams Makes Announcement on Tenant Outreach Effort

January 13, 2022

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you, thank you. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood and it's good to see you all. We're here really to send the clear message that we are about to face an additional crises around housing in our city. We're standing here in front of the Housing Court building were many of New Yorkers go through evictions and go through very difficult moments. It is extremely traumatic to be in his court with the uncertainty of where you're going to live and where you're going to stay, and that's why we want to highlight by standing here. COVID has hit New Yorkers hard, people are worrying over and over again where they're going to sleep and will they have a roof over their heads, and it has really fostered a feeling of really uncertainty that we think we must address. And far too many struggling New Yorkers, particularly working class, middle class, low-income New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet during this time of COVID, and housing is a place that's important for all of us. We must ensure that we no longer put those New Yorkers who are at risk of eviction, we must allow them to know that help is on the way and help is here in the city.

So today, I want to echo the call by Governor Hochul and the New York Congressional Delegation, urging the Federal Treasury Department to make an immediate increase in the federal aid relief program. This is a way we can get on the ground and solve a real problem in our city. And when you think about it, New York State is only – only received $27 million out of the $1.1 billion the Treasury Department set aside for further assistance. That is insulting to our State and is not going to solve the problem we need to solve. New York City has the highest rent in the nation. One third of renters here spend 50 percent of their income on rent. 50 percent. The federal government must help working people in this State and that is our call, we want the federal government to ensure they bring that relief. We want New Yorkers to know that they're not alone. We are in this together. We must do everything that's possible to provide the resources that they need. But we also must do something else. We've done an amazing job in this city of giving additional resources and assistance, and so we want New Yorkers to know their rights. Far too many New Yorkers, particularly those with English as a second language, are not aware of the various rights they have as tenants. So we are going to hit the ground and make sure that our hotline – our PEU Hotline is utilized and make sure we bring the resources and information to New Yorker on what they can do. And we want to send a loud and clear message, lockouts are illegal. You cannot lock people out of their homes and illegal evictions is a crime that is often overlooked, and we want to make sure that people are aware that. That's why we have a robust Public Engagement Unit. The goal is to engage the public where they are and give them the information that they need. Every New Yorker – and I want to stress that – every New Yorker has the right to legal counsel. If you need it, we want to be here to provide that legal counsel for you and we're going to do it free, regardless of your ZIP code regardless of if you are employed or not. We want to give you the support that you deserve.

I've talked about this over and over again, day one as I campaigned and as I became the Mayor of the City, this is not only professional, it's personal. I know what it is to live on the verge of homelessness, something that my family experienced, and I know the trauma of going into a building like this with the uncertainty are you going to leave without your home without a roof over your head. Too many New Yorkers are feeling the pressure, barely hanging on, day after day, month after month, with the uncertainty of how they're going to get through this. Right now, New Yorkers need relief and we can get that relief. That's why we are connecting New Yorkers to resources in the city in urging the federal government to give New York City our fair share. So, at this time before we answer any questions, I want to turn it over to our amazing advocate for tenants in New York City, the Tenant Outreach Director at the Mayor's Public Engagement Unit, Jasmine Batista, and I want to thank her for what she has done and what she's continued to do to just Get Stuff Done for the tenants of this city. Thank you, Jasmine.

Tenant Outreach Director Jasmine Batista, Mayor's Public Engagement Unit: Hello, everyone. My name is Jasmine Batista. I am the Tenant Outreach Director for the Mayor's Public Engagement Unit. I am a single mother of three children. I have faced eviction. I have applied for assistance. I know how difficult it is to have to juggle all these challenges at once. Me and my team work every day closely with New Yorkers, whether it's reaching them door to door, on the phone, or in their communities to connect them to critical city resources. We know how any tenant who's worried about losing their home that they already have a lot to worry about. We know how difficult it is with them having to navigate complicated city bureaucracy. It is important that tenants know that we have their back, all New Yorkers who are facing this issue, we are here for you. Anyone who needs assistance, call 3-1-1 and ask for the Tenant Helpline. It is that simple. If you need assistance, call 3-1-1 as a request for the Tenant Helpline. Our passionate specialists are there to provide information on resources and connect tenants to free legal counsel if needed. We also work closely with other city agencies to make sure that we're able to help tenants with the needs that they – to address their issues. We also assist with applications for rental arrears and other benefits.

Over the next few weeks, my team is going to be proactively reaching out to tens and thousands of New Yorkers, but we need your help to spread the word. You can find more information on our website With the eviction moratorium set to expire this weekend, there are three things we want every New Yorker to know, as the Mayor mentioned. Lockouts are illegal, no one should self-evict. All tenants have the right to stay in their homes unless they choose to leave or evicted through a formal court process. Under New York City's Right to Counsel Law, legal services are free, available to every person in every ZIP code and available no matter whether what your immigration status. When you call 3-1-1, ask for the Tenant Helpline, our team of trained specialists will answer your question and could connect those who need legal support. While we know that the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, ERAP funding is limited, a pending ERAP application will provide a temporary protection from eviction. If you are tenant behind on a ERAP, we encourage you to apply. So again, please know that with those three things at any time feel free to call 3-1-1 and request Tenant Helpline if you need assistance. I will always be thankful for the people who helped me understand how to get help when I needed it, and I'm so proud of my team at the Public Engagement Unit because we do that for our neighbors every day, making sure people are safe, housed and have the services they need. Thank you.

Mayor: Thank you for which you are doing, you know, I appreciate that a lot. You know, and I think – I hope you didn't miss the fact that not only is Jasmine knowledgeable, but I find that our team is filled with those who have personally had to go through the abandonment and betrayal, I like to say, of government. And when she walks into a building, when she deals with a case, she's dealing with it from personal experience and that's the quality that you bring to that – this initiative and I thank you for that.

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