Mayor de Blasio on Thursday called for a rent freeze for rent-regulated tenants amid the COVID-19 epidemic.
The freeze would affect 2.3 million tenants in nearly 1 million rent-stabilized units across the city.
According to a press release by the mayor, the city will work with the state to suspend the Rent Guidelines Board process for the upcoming year, which will maintain all regulated rents at this year’s level.
“We are in the midst of a crisis only comparable to the Great Depression,” de Blasio declared. “The people of our city are struggling and a rent freeze is the lifeline so many will need this year to stay above water.”
Last June, the board voted to increase rents for regulated apartments by 1.5 percent for one-year leases and 2.5 percent for two-year leases.
Separately, Queens state Senator Michael Gianaris has released a bill to give residential and small business tenants relief by suspending rent payments for three months for those who have lost employment due to the coronavirus pandemic. State Senator Brad Hoylman is a sponsor of the bill.
Gianaris said he’d also be happy to see Cuomo bypass the state Legislature and issue an executive order to the same effect.
“Some of the necessary things that we have done in order to contain the spread of coronavirus include shutting down businesses and that’s inevitably costing people their jobs,” Gianaris told WNYC. “And that means they can’t meet their obligations, and rent is the largest obligation for most people.
“To expect people to continue paying their rent, when we have ordered their jobs to be eliminated essentially is grossly unfair — and it’s not just that it’s unfair; these are people who would end up homeless without their homes,” he said. “And so to suspend the rent payments for a period of three months for anyone that has lost work because of the coronavirus pandemic makes all the sense in the world to maintain stability in our communities and to allow people to stay on their feet through this and come out the other side of this in good shape.”
The effort is being dubbed #CancelRent.