Last week, State Senator Michael Gianaris penned a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo requesting an executive order to suspend and forgive rents, as well as provide support for homeowners during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the April 8th letter, Gianaris wrote that the government must be ready not just for the public health crisis, but for the “economic catastrophe right around the corner.”
He noted that there are already numerous reports of unscrupulous landlords pressuring tenants to pay rent with money they do not have due to the government-ordered shutdowns.
“Many renters are making real-time decisions about their housing situation that cannot wait for the crisis to be over,” Gianaris wrote. “We must take serious action right away to keep our neighbors in their homes at this perilous time.”
Despite the 90-day eviction moratorium that Cuomo established by executive order, which Gianaris called “wise,” three months of rent payments will “eventually come due all at once,” he said.
“Those who do not have funds for April’s rent will certainly not have the ability to pay three months worth of rent in July,” he said. “The resulting wave of evictions and foreclosures would exacerbate a historically difficult time.”
Gianaris has introduced legislation to provide immediate rent relief to residential tenants and small businesses. The bill would also provide support for homeowners who have suffered financial hardship.
But the state lawmaker noted that the governor has the authority to provide this type of relief without waiting for the legislature to reconvene. He said Cuomo has already used this power in a number of situations related to the coronavirus outbreak.
“The economic consequences of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come,” Gianaris wrote, “and the work of rebuilding New York will dominate policy-making in all branches of government for the foreseeable future.
“Your leadership in response to the public health component of the coronavirus outbreak is being held up as an example across the nation,” he added. “Now is the time to take action to combat the housing and economic crises that are soon to follow.”