As millions of tenants were unable to pay rent on April 1, and with no clear end to the COVID-19 crisis in sight, a Queens lawmaker is helping to introduce a new legislation to cancel rent and mortgage payments nationwide.
Congresswoman Grace Meng on April 20 announced the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, which would constitute a full forgiveness of payment, with no accumulation of debt for renters or homeowners and no negative impact on their credit rating or rental history.
The bill would also create a relief fund for landlords and mortgage holders to cover losses from the canceled payments provided certain fair housing and rent requirements are met.
Lastly, it would establish an optional fund to fully finance the purchase of private rental properties by non-profits, public housing authorities, cooperatives, community land trusts, and states or local governments — in order to increase the availability of affordable housing during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Over 22 million Americans — including approximately 1.2 million New Yorkers — have filed for unemployment benefits and that number will increase as we continue our efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” Meng said. “These numbers are sobering and reflect a hard truth that many Americans, including my neighbors and community members in Queens, are struggling.”
“For Queens residents, and all New Yorkers, we are living in the nexus of this health crisis. Combatting this pandemic will take each and every one of us to do our part – but we have to ensure people are not fighting two wars: one to stay healthy, and the other against housing instability. If people lose their homes, then our ability to combat this virus becomes impossible,” Meng added.
The cancellation measure would be retroactive to cover April 2020 payments, and would extend one calendar month after the national emergency is lifted.