Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Councilmember Robert Cornegy for the 36th District (D, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights) yesterday called for action to help New Yorkers cover rent payments for the month of April, with their Rent Relief program.
Officials call came via a telephone press conference to address increasing concerns over how people are going to pay rent next month amid the coronavirus outbreak. People can’t pay rent if most of them are out of work and stuck inside.
“We need that money in our communities,” said Adams. “They can receive their money to pay for food, pay for other emergency items, to pay for all the issues. Coronavirus has destabilized how people are living every day.”
The rent plan proposed will require landlords to offer every renter the option of applying their cash security deposit directly towards next month’s rent, unlocking savings tied up in cash security deposits from escrow.
New Yorkers pay among the highest costs in monthly rent in the nation, according to a Zumper rent report. Renters in Brooklyn pay on average about $1,200 to $3,000 for a studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom depending on the neighborhood. Those numbers don’t include the expensive rentals towards downtown Brooklyn and in the DUMBO area, which can reach upwards of $6,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. Those numbers also don’t include the usual first month in advance, last month, and security deposits that most people have to pay before moving in.
“Too many of our friends and family, our coworkers, have been let go in the last few days,” said Ankur Jain, founder and CEO of Kairos, a start-up investment company aimed at solving financial problems. In 2019, Jain’s company offered a policy plan that was similar to what his company is presenting now.
“Frankly, even this national bailout we’ve been talking about won’t solve the issue for millions of New Yorkers,” said Jain.
The call to action came as Congress is finalizing a $2 trillion bailout package for the country that Republicans and Democrats can agree on and hopefully the House can unanimously pass when it returns.
“We have, obviously, a million apartments rent-stabilized, some rent-controlled, and two and a half million people who are in rentals in the city of New York,” said Brewer. She said in addition to the eviction moratorium that she is looking for direct support from the city and state to help people pay rent.
A staggering amount of people have simply lost their jobs because of the city being forced to shut down.
“Renter’s relief represents a potential $8 billion dollar step forward in helping families cope with this emergency,” said Cornegy, “We face a dual challenge in this moment, a public health challenge and an economic challenge.”
According to Jain, the Renter’s Choice Plan would provide April’s, and possibly May’s, monthly rent for New Yorkers. It would also ensure landlords don’t fall behind on any of their liabilities. Renters who opt-in to the rent relief program will have 30 days to replace the security deposit.
“I have a family home, and I’m going to offer it to my tenants as well,” said Adams.