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State assembly member calls to freeze rent, support landlords with emergency funds

Yuh-Line Niou. (File Photo)

BY GRANT LANCASTER

A state assembly member has proposed a trio of bills intended to support struggling New York renters by waiving rent for those that can show hardship and freezing rent for those who have lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislation, sponsored by Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou, comes as the second month of rent due under the state’s stay-at-home order, with 791,000 New Yorkers applying for unemployment as of last week.

One bill, A10224, would waive all rent payments for residential and small business tenants that can prove hardship related to the virus and allow landlords facing hardship to put off some mortgage payments for 90 days.

The second, A10247, would suspend rent payments for tenants who lost income or were forced to close their business due to the state of emergency. It would also establish a coronavirus rental assistance fund.

Finally, bill A10255 would set up an emergency fund for assisting small landlords.

“For the people who have lost their jobs and the small businesses that have been forced to shutter, this is an immediate crisis – their income has been cut off, but rent is still due on the first,” Niou said. “Our action to help them needs to be just as immediate.”

In addition to the bills, Niou wants to provide further support for renters by providing property tax relief for small landlords, freezing rent payments at their current level for the length of the crisis and one year after, using emergency funds to sanitize and disinfect NYCHA public areas and more.

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