Queens senator calls for 90-day rent suspension for residential and commercial tenants impacted by coronavirus

Rent due reminder on calendar
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Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris is calling for a 90-day suspension of residential and commercial rent for tenants as well as small businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

After Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a 90-day moratorium on evictions on Friday, March 20, Gianaris took to Twitter to address the issue of rent payments.

“Eviction moratorium is good but tenants without income won’t be able to pay accumulating rent in 90 days and will then face eviction,” he wrote. “We need to #CancelRent for 90 days.”

Gianaris, who represents Senate District 12 — which includes Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Ridgewood — is drafting legislation to enact a proposal to provide residential and commercial tenants with 90 days of rent forgiveness if they lost their work or had to close their business due to COVID-19.

As a result of the outbreak and the state’s precautionary stay-at-home order, thousands of New Yorkers and people in the tri-state area have already lost their jobs.

Many other Queens lawmakers have joined Gianaris’ call for a rent freeze, including Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, Senator Jessica Ramos and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“[Two-thirds] of New York City residents are renters. Now that New York State has issued a mortgage moratorium, we must also enact a rent moratorium to prevent mass displacement,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. “Relief and protecting from displacement shouldn’t just be for homeowners and the wealthy. It should be for everyone.”

Last week, Queens Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney led a request for a moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions with a letter signed by 106 Congress members.

The letter called for the immediate, nationwide moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions from properties owned, insured or overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and federally backed agencies including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Shortly after that letter was sent, the White House’s administration announced HUD would suspend foreclosures and evictions insured by FHA for at least 60 days.

Cuomo’s moratorium announcement came afterward and provided more guidelines, such as waiving mortgage payments based on financial hardship, no negative reporting to credit bureaus, grace period for loan modification, no late payment fees or online payment fees, and postponing or suspending foreclosures.

While Gianaris praised Cuomo’s leadership and said New York is doing an “excellent job of managing this crisis,” he believes more needs to be done.

“The devastation caused by coronavirus will be far-reaching and long-lasting,” he stated. “We must stay on top of the fast-changing consequences of our efforts to contain the virus, and the millions of tenants in our state cannot be left behind. Suspending rents is a critically important step to help New Yorkers survive this unprecedentedly difficult time.”