Cuomo gives New York homeowners a mortgage advantage against coronavirus, but no relief for tenants on the edge
“It’s really crazy that so many people are losing their jobs and we don’t have the capacity to pay the rent, so we’re asking the governor to do something about it,” Weaver said.
Cuomo’s office did not respond to questions about tenant relief.
Although tenants organizing coordinated rent strikes at the level of a building or a neighborhood To historical previous in New York, a government-mandated rent suspension would be a first. In the context of the coronavirus epidemic, France suspends utility bills and rents for small businesses. Italy, where the death toll surpassed that of China to 3,405 Thursday suspended mortgage payments as part of its own $ 28 billion package.
New York is “certainly in uncharted waters, but we are at a time when everything should be on the table,” Weaver said.
The Cuomo homeowner rescue comes as momentum for the rent suspension builds in New York City and across the country since the COVID-19 emergency has been coupled with an economic crisis.
An economist estimated 500,000 people in New York will lose their jobs, mostly in low-hourly-wage industries that have been forced to shut down under critical measures to “slow the spread” of the coronavirus. Weaver said Housing Justice for All’s mailing list had quadrupled in recent days, and a slew of petitions were garnering tens of thousands of signatures, growing rapidly every hour.
A Change.org rent and mortgage suspension petition raised more than 69,000 signatures for three days.
“This crisis is going to bankrupt businesses and people, especially low-income people who are struggling to pay their rent as is the case in a city with increasingly higher rents,” said the drag queen and city council candidate Marti Gould Cummings, who started the petition. Cummings switched to live shows on Instagram and Facebook with their husband, who plays the piano, after being laid off when nightlife venues were forced to close. “It’s going to take a long time to recover, and that’s why we need to put these policies in place now.”
A series of nationwide petitions, Rent strike 2020, intended for state governors, is “600,000 strong people,” according to Washington state congressional candidate Joshua Collins, whose Rose Caucus group, launched the campaign. The group is asking for a two-month rent suspension, while encouraging people to stop paying rent altogether.
Weaver and other tenant organizers have sounded the alarm bells about the Rent Strike 2020 petition, especially since it was run by someone who is not based in New York City. Weaver told The Real Deal it was “irresponsible”.
“There is a big difference between calling on people not to pay their rent and organizing a rent strike,” Weaver added.
It is not known how many signatures this group’s New York form collected. An email listed for Rose Caucus did not return a request for comment.
Weaver pointed out that a rent strike, especially one on such a scale, would require tenants’ leaders in multiple buildings to organize a dense network across neighborhoods. This is why the Housing Justice for All coalition is specifically asking for a rent suspension for the time being.
“For people to take this risky step, they need to feel there is a sense of community and a sense of security,” she said.
Even homeowner groups are asking for tenant relief in anticipation of their tenants’ inability to pay rent.
“It is absolutely vital that tenants affected by this crisis receive direct financial support as soon as possible to avoid a potential crash in the New York housing system,” Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, said in a statement. .
CHIP, Small Property Owners of New York, New York Capital Region Apartment Association, and the Real Estate Board of New York have asked Cuomo to create a voucher program for tenants whose jobs have been affected, a rebate of property tax in the event that tenants couldn’t pay rent, among other requirements.