“About two thirds of our traditional business has been paused or delayed,” Hayley Berlent said, about COVID-19’s impact on her company, The Addictive Agency.
Berlent is the founder of The Addictive Agency, which provides branding advice to non-profit organizations.
“It’s hard to invest long term when you’re just thinking about short term survival,” she said about her clients.
Berlent says she’s had to pivot to working on COVID-19 PR strategies for non-profits, but she says one thing hasn’t changed: “We’re still liable for rent every month even though we cannot use the facilities.”
NY1 first interviewed Berlent in May of 2019 about her co-working space, well before Governor Cuomo’s stay at home order for non-essential businesses.
She has an annual lease with WeWork and says the facility in DUMBO is open, but she doesn’t consider it safe for her employees.
“I’m not aware of social distancing protocols, I’m only aware of frequent cleaning,” she said.
“As a tenant, I’m really disappointed,” Ayme Sinclair told NY1.
Sinclair founded Sinclair Social, a social media advertising agency.
Her workspace is in the Chrysler Building and her co-working landlord is a WeWork competitor called Spaces, which has 11 locations in the city.
Its parent company IWG says on its website it is “supporting numerous essential businesses and services during this crisis, who rely on us to keep things running as seamlessly as possible.” But Sinclair’s isn’t essential and she claims services and support she pays for have been disrupted.
”If they want to charge us then they need to be able to provide these services and right now they’re keeping it open for business policy to avoid providing rent deferral,” said Sinclair.
“They’re being asked to continue to pay their rent while they’re not deriving any income,” explained State Senator Kevin Parker of some of his constituents.
The Brooklyn Democrat says he’s proposing a rent freeze for micro businesses in co-working spaces during the stay at home order.
“These are companies that already work on very small margins,” said Parker, “We certainly don’t want those co-working spaces to have financial problems either, but we have to start from the bottom and work our way to the top.”
Berlent says WeWork did allow her to defer her rent for May after several conversations, unlike Sinclair at Spaces.
It helps she says, but she knows she’ll have to pay up eventually.
Neither WeWork or Spaces responded to our questions.