As we know by now, New York City has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus. Not only are many people sick, but nearly 40% of residents can't afford their housing costs due to recent layoffs. With so many people renting in this city, there are going to be a lot of residents who can't afford to pay rent in May or beyond. That's why some New Yorkers are organizing a rent strike. Here's more about why this may be happening and what to expect if it goes forward.
Recent Offers of Help from the Government May Not Be Enough
You might have heard about some of the new policies meant to keep New Yorkers from becoming homeless after job loss due to the coronavirus. For example, President Trump requested a freeze on evictions and foreclosures for 60 days, helping ensure homeowners don't lose their home in the next few months.
That policy helps some homeowners, but what about renters? About two-thirds of New York City's residents fall into this category, so it's a big deal here. Well, Governor Cuomo recently requested a suspension of evictions for 90 days, which is meant to provide some relief for renters who are now jobless and are worried about being homeless. While some people have praised this decision, others are worried about what will happen after the 90-day period is over.
Their concern is that after 90 days, the same people who can't afford rent right now might not be able to afford it then. After all, they'll still owe three months' worth of rent, so if they're not able to pay it all along, there's no guarantee they can pay it all by the summer. And at that point, their landlord could evict them for nonpayment.
What's the Proposed Solution?
Clearly, a temporary suspension of evictions isn't going to be enough help for many people. It could just delay the inevitable for people who lost their job recently and will need more time to get back on their feet. So what's the solution? According to some, it could be rent and mortgage forgiveness for three months. This would mean no one would have to pay housing costs until the summer, ensuring no one has to face big bills after not being able to pay for months.
Of course, this is just a proposal for now. Supporters are sending out a petition for people to sign so more politicians, including the governor, take action. Another way they're trying to make a difference is through a possible rent strike in the near future. More specifically, groups like Housing Justice for All are recommending that New Yorkers go on a rent strike on May 1 if the state hasn't passed rent forgiveness by then. The theory is that this would put pressure on politicians to agree to this proposal. Plus, many people simply won't be able to afford rent for May anyway, and a rent strike would show some solidarity so they know they're not alone.
Clearly, this issue is still developing as policies change swiftly due to the coronavirus. If you're having trouble paying your rent or mortgage in New York City, you won't have to worry about eviction right now. But you might still need help in a few months once the eviction suspension is over. In that case, you should contact a New York City real estate attorney to find out what your legal options are when it comes to housing.