New York City landlords have rounded on a call by Sen. Michael Gianaris to cancel rents and forgive non-payment by residents and businesses.
The New York Senate Deputy Leader made the call in a letter to President-Elect Joe Biden urging him to prioritize relief for residential tenants and small businesses as he transitions to the White House.
As COVID-19 spikes again in New York State, Senator Gianaris urged the incoming president to provide more aid for tenants and small businesses, including rent forgiveness.
“New Yorkers will be called upon to make great sacrifices as covid-19 spikes across our city. While everyone is willing to make great sacrifices, we need the federal government to step up and help,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.
“President-elect Joe Biden has always had New York’s back and we need him to make relief for our residential tenants and small businesses a top priority for his transition and administration.”
However, New York’s Rent Stabilization Association (RSA), which represents the owners of some one million rent-stabilized apartments in the five boroughs, said cancelling rent would “send the city into an abyss of unprecedented economic devastation.”
“Senator Gianaris is out of touch with reality,” said Joseph Strasburg, president of the RSA.
“As one of the leaders of the Democratic Socialists in New York who supports defunding the police – and who killed the Amazon deal that would’ve produced 25,000 jobs for New Yorkers and billions of dollars in revenue – Gianaris is now trying to defund landlords, which would send the city into an abyss of unprecedented economic devastation and implode the affordable housing infrastructure for millions of families.”
Slamming what he called Gianaris “radical socialist agenda against landlords,” Strasburg said building owners need rent revenue to pay property taxes, heating bills, mortgage loans and repair and maintenance bills .
The RSA and some tenant advocates believe federal rent vouchers are the best way to help financially struggling tenants.
“If Gianaris really wants to help tenants and small businesses – including thousands of small owners who are also small businesses – then he would ask the President-elect to support rent vouchers in a stimulus package,” Strasburg said.
Both Republicans and Democrats have agreed the nation needs another stimulus relief package but talks have stalled on how much and how it will work.
President Donald Trump had previously said it would be a priority immediately after the election. He hasn’t made any comment since losing to Joe Biden and the White House has withdrawn from negotiations.