Tenants and small landlords should be eligible for billions of dollars in relief in order to stave off evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Mike Gianaris on Monday said.
Under a proposal backed by advocates for small landlords and housing advocates, relief totaling $2.2 billion would be provided to eligible landlords in exchange for rent forgiveness for tenants who have not been able to pay rent due during the pandemic.
The proposal would address the rent that has gone unpaid over the last 11 months for New Yorkers who have struggled during the pandemic and subsequent economic fallout.
The money would come from either revenue generated from a tax increase on the richest New Yorkers or from federal relief funds that are under debate in Congress. President Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion relief package.
Gianaris made his call in a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the rent relief on the first of the month, when rent is due for tenants.
“New York has spent the last year in the midst of a public health and economic crisis. If we don’t take action now, we will also fall into a housing and eviction crisis,” Gianaris said.
“Whether funds come from the federal government or new sources of state revenue, we must include rent relief in this year’s state budget because tenants deserve peace of mind and small landlords should be made whole.”
The relief funds would build on additional efforts lawmakers have made in recent weeks, including an expanded moratorium for residential evictions.
"Today, rent is due for the eleventh time during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Cea Weaver, a coordinator for Housing Justice for all. "And for the eleventh month in a row, there is no aid for the tenants and struggling landlords who cannot make ends meet. Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic will require a deep investment in housing."
The governor's budget officie in a statement pointed to the billons of dollars already committed and planned for housing relief.
“This administration has supported our tenants even before the pandemic with a $20 billion affordable housing plan, and is advancing a $1.3 billion rent relief program that will further bolster rent protections the Governor has implemented since the start of the pandemic, including eviction moratoriums," said Division of Budget spokesman Freeman Klopott.
"New York already sends $23 billion more to the federal government than it gets back in return, and we should all be keeping our attention on getting New York its fair share of funding from Washington rather than pushing policies that will undermine our competitiveness and ability to recover.”