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CARES Act provides lifeline for hard-working New Yorkers

In response to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in the United States, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The federal stimulus package includes $2 trillion in economic relief efforts designed to support workers, residential owners and residents, businesses, and state and local governments.

To help members navigate this ongoing crisis, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)  compiled a general overview of the federal stimulus package highlighting its impact on the real estate industry as part of our new Coronavirus Resource Hub website.

We believe this initial package will help mitigate some of the impacts of the Coronavirus crisis. The CARES Act is the first step in what we know will be a long journey of rebuilding the economy for New Yorkers – many of whom work in our industry.

In order to help more individuals in need of temporary relief, the CARES Act meaningfully enhances unemployment insurance. Specifically, the federal stimulus package:  

  1. Allows for self-employed and independent contractors to participate.
  2. Increases the amount of time a worker may receive unemployment insurance from 26 weeks to 39 weeks.
  3. Raises the maximum unemployment amount above the baseline unemployment compensation benefit, meaning individuals receiving unemployment will receive an additional $600 a week.

The real estate community is eligible to receive unemployment benefits if they have seen a loss of income. We know what this means to the tens of thousands of real estate professionals currently wondering how they will make ends meet during this crisis. Qualified independent contractors, which includes rental agents, will be compensated by the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and from the federal government over the next four months

In addition to changes to unemployment insurance, U.S. residents with an adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples) who have a work-eligible Social Security Number and are not listed as a dependent, will receive a $1,200 benefit ($2,400 for married couples) directly to their homes.

Finally, the federal stimulus package includes the new Paycheck Protection Program to incentivize firms not to lay off employees. Small businesses, including independent contractors under 500 employees, in most instances can apply for a loan equal in amount to 250% of the businesses’ average monthly payroll to cover payroll, rent, mortgages, insurance premiums, utilities and other operating expenses. That loan becomes forgivable if used within eight weeks of receipt, 75% of the funds are utilized for payroll costs, and your payroll is restored to pre-pandemic levels by June 30, 2020.

We understand that navigating these application processes can be difficult. The REBNY team is available to support our members and will continue to do so as more benefits become available.

These are challenging times and the economic slowdown will not be easy on any industry. The CARES Act was a good first step in providing meaningful relief for New Yorkers in need. But it’s just that – a first step. Many small businesses and workers are left needing more support, including in the real estate industry.

As the economic toll of the coronavirus crisis plays out across the globe, REBNY will continue to advocate for additional aid for New Yorkers in any upcoming stimulus bills. We are the epicenter of the outbreak and New York needs more funding for income and rental assistance and state and city governments to aid in the humanitarian crisis and our eventual economic recovery. These are uncharted waters. Our country will need new ideas and fresh solutions never tried before to support New Yorkers in the months to come.

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