NEW YORK – “Tomorrow is the first of the month, which is the time when many New Yorkers are required to pay their rent. This month is unlike any we’ve seen as a city, and hundreds of thousands of people who were working just a few weeks or even days ago are now unemployed and worried about how they will survive. 

We need rent relief for those impacted by this crisis. I support State Sen. Michael Gianaris’ efforts to suspend rent for those who lost income because of the epidemic. In addition, I am interested in helping lower income tenants adversely affected by coronavirus who were already struggling even before this crisis. Rent payments due to coronavirus/COVID-19 hardship must be reduced – or in some cases cancelled – now. We must also ensure that those tenants aren’t hit with exorbitant back rents they won’t be able to afford after this crisis is over.  

We need to balance rent relief with financial support for building owners whose tenants are suffering, especially small, mom and pop landlords and non-profit building owners. We should consider whether we should–in some cases–extend temporary tax relief to those landlords so that they can get through this period.  

Any assistance for landlords needs to come with protections to prevent them from harassing current tenants out of their units or rent-gouging to make up for profit losses when the crisis subsides. To be blunt, those caught being bad landlords should get no relief. 

New York City was in a housing emergency even before this epidemic. We cannot let New Yorkers come out of this crisis on the brink of homelessness. The eviction moratorium needs to stay in place during the crisis and for a reasonable recovery period afterward.

The urgency of the tenant protections we were calling for  before coronavirus has only increased. We must keep pushing the State to pass  “Just Cause” eviction legislation, which would prohibit landlords from forcing tenants out through big rent increases at time of lease renewal.

The time to act is now. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are suddenly in a position where they can’t afford their rent, which has ripple effects throughout our economy–for property owners and for the city as a whole. We need a structure in place for everyone’s peace of mind. We are all in this together.”