Gianaris pushes alternative to ‘cancel rent’

Fund would pay landlords for rent arrears and clear tenants’ debt

New York /
Feb.February 01, 2021 11:20 AM
Sen. Mike Gianaris and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Getty/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)

Sen. Mike Gianaris and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Getty/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)

Sen. Michael Gianaris didn’t get too many holiday cards from the real estate industry last year. But now the high-ranking legislator and housing advocates are pushing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to set aside $2.2 billion for small landlords and their struggling tenants.

In a recent letter to Cuomo, Gianaris, best known for pro-tenant legislation and helping chase Amazon’s HQ2 project away from his home borough of Queens, argued for the creation of a Housing Stability Relief Fund to pay landlords for rent arrears and clear the debt of about 1.3 million households unable to make rent payments in the pandemic, the Daily News reported.

“New York has spent the last year in the midst of a public health and economic crisis,” Gianaris said. “If we don’t take action now, we will also fall into a housing and eviction crisis.”

Gianaris is the No. 2-ranked Democrat in the Senate, but legislators have limited power to shape the state budget, although they negotiate it with the governor.

The state has extended an eviction moratorium into the spring, but there’s no exit plan for landlords to be paid when it ends.

Housing advocates, including the cancel-rent group Housing Justice for All, are set to echo Gianaris’ sentiment and also to call for $500 million in state funds to be set aside to help end homelessness. They also want the legislature to enact enduring eviction protection through the pandemic.

Cuomo is counting on $15 billion in federal aid for the state budget, due April 1. Gianaris said if Washington assistance falls short, the state should consider increasing taxes on the wealthy to cover the cost of the rent relief. [NY Daily News] — Akiko Matsuda





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