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Constantinides Backs State Legislation Calling for the Cancellation of Rent for Struggling Tenants

Jackson Heights (wiki JLeon CC BY 2.5)

April 22, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Council Member Costa Constantinides is backing state legislation that would cancel the rent for tenants who are unable to meet their monthly obligation as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown.

Constantinides introduced a resolution in the city council Wednesday seeking the support of his colleagues to put pressure on Albany to pass such legislation. The city council has no authority to cancel rent payments, with the power in the hands of state legislators.

However, the passage of a council resolution– although not legally binding– sends a strong message to Albany lawmakers.

Constantinides said he introduced the resolution since people should not have to worry about how they will pay for rent during the pandemic.

“This should be the last of anyone’s concerns as they try to stay safe, care for their families, and access healthy food,” Constantinides said Wednesday.

Constantinides and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents the 10th Council District, introduced the resolution in support of a bill that is currently going before the state senate and assembly. The bill has been introduced in the state Senate by Mike Gianaris and by Yuh-Line Niouin in the Assembly.

The bill calls for the 90-day suspension of residential rental payments for tenants who have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 government shutdown. The bill also applies to small business commercial tenants that have been forced to close their place of business due to the government shutdown.

Landlords who face financial hardship as a result of missed rent payments will receive forgiveness on mortgage payments for 90 days, according to the legislation.

Gianaris welcomed the resolution and said that it has been clear for weeks that rents cannot be paid with money that doesn’t exist. He said that either lawmakers legislate for rent cancellation or people will end up not paying rent anyway due to a lack of income.

Many New Yorkers are struggling to pay rent since so many are out of a job due to the shutdown.

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, the Department of Labor has paid insurance benefits to 1.1 million New Yorkers but the payments have still left residents without enough money to cover rent.

Nearly one-quarter of Americans were unable to pay their April housing bill, according to a study released by the real estate firm Apartment List on April 8.

Canceling rent payments and suspending mortgage payments during the pandemic is now supported by a majority of voters nationwide, according a recent poll of 1,086 likely voters released by Data for Progress and conducted by The Justice Collaborative.

The poll showed that 55 percent of likely voters said they would be in favor of such a proposal while 33 percent are opposed to it, according to the poll released on April 17.

Constantinides’ resolution was referred to the Council Committee on Housing and Buildings.

Survey by Data for Progress and The Justice Collaborative

email the author: [email protected]

15 Comments

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Spot69

Well im still working barely 30 hours i would make more money on unemployment i can barely pay rent my fiance has been waiting 5weeks for unemployment what is going on in this state

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Leo

I know plenty of people that are receiving or have filed for unemployment benefits here in the state and not paying rent that left NYC to be with family or friends in another state ever since this whole pandemic started. Two of the people that i know are living in a hotel in Florida by the beach spending their unemployment benefits in that state while texting their landlord that they can’t pay rent.

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TWO whole anecdotes?!

You said you know somebody?! Better shutdown the legislation, people suddenly aren’t struggling to pay rent anymore.

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Vera

There is and was a big push to get people unemployment benefits to help them with the cost of living. No one knows how long this pandemic will last in NYC. I am working from home. My biggest monthly expense is housing cost. I would also like to save money and not pay rent. Working from home has been so stressful. If my job does not offer me additional pay and starts to lay people off i would volunteer if this passes. It is bound to be extended and no judge will evict you.

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SNHR

Brilliant idea! Let’s put more ppl out of work when real estate companies can no longer pay salaries.

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Mildred

Anon- You can use and say the “where does it end game” for anything. Nothing clever about it.

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Anon

I’m a grumpy old landlord that doesn’t like the government and complain about everything. I’m moving to Epstein Island where I can charge tenants whatever I want.

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Anon

Why limit this to rent. I can’t afford groceries either. All the products in the supermarkets should be free too. Not just the food but paper products and soap as well. My car is shot, I need a new one. The cars that are in dealerships or already built but not yet in dealerships should also be up for grabs. The cars are built, they don’t cost anything now. Give them away. Why are we still paying for internet. High speed internet is a human right. Netflix and all the other streaming services need to be free. Everything should be free and nobody but those evil rich people should need to pay taxes. The definition of rich is anybody that has something that I don’t have. Oh one other thing, I want a pony.

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Anonymous

Louella,
Don’t thank Costa, thank your landlord. After all Costa is buying your vote with your landlord’s money not his own.

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Futurism

And when the MTA is reducing fares?

If we have unemployment, people not paying rent, groceries shortage… why we take it only against the landlords in general?

Why we dont separte company landlord than old-style landlord? a person renting their single property v. a big company that has several buildings?

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ak_NYC

There is a critical error in this post. You say that landlords would “receive FORGIVENESS on mortgage payments for 90 days, according to the legislation.”
The bill shows that mortgage would be SUSPENDED for 90 days. Huge difference. Landlords should get parity with tenants and have the proportional amount of their mortgages, property taxes and utilities FORGIVEN if they experience a loss of income to pay those bills due to any rent payment forgiveness scheme rolled out.
Then you say

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