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We Need to Cancel Rent During the Coronavirus Pandemic: State Sen. Mike Gianaris

43rd Street, Sunnyside (QueensPost)

Op-ed: April 1, 2020 By State Sen. Mike Gianaris

America is facing an unprecedented public health crisis which will soon become an unprecedented economic and housing crisis.

With rents due April 1 and jobless claims expected to pass 3.5 million this week, we could see millions evicted from apartments, homes foreclosed upon, and small businesses permanently shuttered – leaving even more people out of work.

New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis and we are taking serious measures to stem the bleeding. Governor Andrew Cuomo has done a commendable job managing this crisis, including by issuing an executive order halting evictions and foreclosures for 90 days.

But this isn’t enough – many New Yorkers live paycheck to paycheck and do not have three months of back rent saved.

New legislation I introduced last week would suspend and forgive rent payments for residential and small business tenants for 90 days, as well as provide some relief for small property owners. This has received an outpouring of support, nearly crashing the State Senate website over the weekend.

According to Data for Progress’ surveys conducted with The Justice Collaborative, suspend and forgive programs enjoy broad public support: 76% of poll respondents indicated support for some version of suspending and forgiving rents for residential tenants. Few policies receive this level of public support: 83% of Democrats are behind it, and even 72% of Republicans are in support.

Data for Progress

Data for Progress puts critical data behind suspending and forgiving rent, but let me put a human face on it. My office has had its voicemail filled by people telling their own stories. A freelance arts teacher, who does not receive sick leave or traditional unemployment, let me know that with all her classes now cancelled she has no income and cannot pay her bills. Another caller, a hair salon owner, lost all their personal and business income. They fear losing both their apartment and salon – and their livelihood for years to come.

State Sen. Mike Gianaris

There is a moral imperative to #CancelRent. Thousands, if not millions, of New Yorkers are on the financial brink. We often say many New Yorkers are just a paycheck away from poverty. The time has come where the paychecks have stopped coming. We need to take urgent and critical action now to suspend and forgive rents for people who are in need of assistance during the pandemic.

What can we do? I am working to garner support in the legislature to pass my bill – and I am excited to have nearly two dozen Senate cosponsors of the bill and support in the Assembly. The Governor could also, if he so chooses, enact such a policy through executive order. We need people to keep being active voices – call your elected officials and express your support for this policy. Working together, we can deliver the critical relief people need at this difficult time.

State Sen. Mike Gianaris is the Deputy Majority Leader in the New York State Senate. He represents New York’s 12th State Senate district, which includes Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood and Woodhaven.

This op-ed first appeared on the site Data for Progress

email the author: [email protected]

15 Comments

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e edwards

Jerry…..you worked hard….now give it to someone else….that is what AOC and DeBlasio want from you…..these people are failures or at least have some inferiority complex that drives them. They can’t make it on a level playing field…AOC’s parents got her out of the Bronx because the schools didn’t have text books……not because they were racist or elitist. they wanted something better ….couldn’t live where they were.

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E Edwards

I suppose it’s time to get use to living in a 3rd world socialist country. I do believe that people who genuinely need help should always get it in a country that was once as great as ours. Cancel rent? really how about a means test….maybe people should think about spending less and saving more….my job as a landlord is not to be a back up plan for social services. I work day in and day out for my keep. I paid my way thru college working part time in a supermarket….worked weekends in the summer …no beach….no vacation…..no student loans…City University……then I went to work for myself….took a risk. Risk? A concept that this generation doesn’t grasp. that’s how you achieve self respect by trying and succeeding or failing but getting up and trying again. That’s the spirit that made this country great at one time. Our new arrivals and politicians think its better to coddle and re distribute someone else’s hard earned money.

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Fed up in Woodside

How about freeze on property tax . I had to pay my property tax due on April 1st. No one is giving me a break on that . Meanwhile
State senators & elected members still getting paychecks despite they do all year .

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Jerry

I own a couple of apartments that I sublease. I lost my job. How am I going to pay my rent. This is reverse racism by this mindless liberal. I’m sure that the majority of people who own buildings or rent individual apartments are white. Those are the people that this is always trying to hurt.

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Francis

I am Tired of media putting the wealthy athletes, movie stars and music stars on t.v. to tell their stories and hardships. I want to hear from the real American heroes who get up everyday and go to work to keep the system going and those the system has unemployed that are facing the uncertainty of how their families are to survive this virus and the ever failing, for the majority, Wall Street…

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Gardens Watcher

Alejandra, use your time indoors to learn something new instead of looking to be entertained. Or do something that will benefit your community.

Better to learn new skills now, because the old jobs in the pre-virus economy may never come back. The state is operating under water now, and we all need to figure out how to stay afloat.

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Gardens Watcher

Jobless claims were almost double what was expected: 6.6 million, not 3.5 million. And that doesn’t include those who couldn’t even file a claim since the state systems are crashing due to volume.

The state budget is overdue now, Senator G. Do your job responsibly! Introducing a Suspend and Forgive Rent program of course is wildly popular. But barring a medical breakthrough, this virus is not going away anytime soon. So where is that money going to come from?

I understand Albany is standing on quicksand with the budget, but to answer your question “What can we do?” YOU could do your part by proposing a pay CUT for legislators — or better yet, a pay suspension.

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Bill

Hey Gianaris:
What about landlords we have to pay bills also. What about people who are subleasing. Why don’t we eliminate rent all together. You are a fool and shouldn’t be in state government.

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Jimmy g

How about cut ginaras pay instead? I own several buildings,I paid off all my mortgages so I can make money now I have to lose rent money because of a flu? What about me

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Guest

What about mortgages? Believe it or not, not every landlord is a millionaire.
Stop saying freeze or forgive rent… If you want to freeze, freeze every payment for 3 months then, why not freeze credit card payments too, let people shop, then they can pay over long time. If government is bailing big banks, why not big banks pay it forward and help consumers.

Nonsens all around.

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Anon

Grand larceny by legislation. Why not make food, utilities, a new car and anything else the”public” wants free too. No money? No problem we’ll pass a bill and you can steal someone else’s money. Nothing but looting. This is not relief to those in need, it is just Gianaris and AOC attempting to buy votes with other people’s money and the never ending sense of entitlement found in their supporters.

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Anonymous

The city is in tons of debt and will continue to tax the landlords which gets passed onto renters.

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Alejandra

If you want people to stay inside or apart then give some money so people can buy a streaming subscription online and freeze rents and utilities. You stay home all day and you go crazy.

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Critic Al

Wrong apartment building picture to go with this article. Remember, it’s a “Luxury apartment” residence. The zoning codes were changed so it could be 9 stories. Ciz they do that in real estate politics.

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COVID19THEMUSICAL

How we gonna pay
How we gonna pay
How we gonna pay
This year’s rent

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