New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in March that the state would give homeowners a 90-day reprieve from making mortgage payments during the coronavirus outbreak. Renters did not get the same forgiveness and that’s preferential treatment, according to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
April rent is due today for millions of New Yorkers and no rent forgiveness for tenants has been approved, Politico reported. Landlords are worried that many of the newly unemployed will skip payments.
“If you called for a suspension or moratorium on mortgage payments, then we should also call for that same treatment on rent payments,” Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday during an appearance on New York Public Radio station WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.”
Homeowners will still have to make the payments, but they will be added onto the back end of their mortgage agreements without late fees, Cuomo said, according to the New York Post.
“Eliminating that stressor for 90 days, I think, will go a long way,” he said. The 90 days could also be extended, depending on how the fight against the coronavirus plays out.
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A third of all New York City households earn a majority of their income from a person who works in an occupation vulnerable to the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak, according to a recent Furman Center report.
New York has imposed a 90-day moratorium on evictions. That addresses the issue, Cuomo said on Monday. “We have said that no one can get evicted for nonpayment of rent and that to me is the fundamental answer,” he said at a press conference. “That solves all of the above.”
However, Ocasio-Cortez said that’s not enough. Without another rent relief measure, she suggests there’s a double standard between renters and homeowners.
“We’re kind of creating a class and race issue,” AOC said. “We’re essentially rewarding and offering preferential treatment to landowners and folks who are more wealthy, and we’re not offering that same kind of relief to renters.”
It’s an issue of racial inequality, AOC said. Those who have to work outside the home doing food prep, deliveries and grocery store work, “are overwhelmingly lower-income. They’re black. They’re brown … and they still have to pay rent tomorrow.
“There’s absolutely … racial and class inequities baked into the crisis,” she said. “If you are able to stay home, you are a privileged person in this moment.”
Other states, cities and politicians are weighing options on evictions. California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide moratorium on evictions for renters affected by coronavirus. Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia have banned evictions at least through the end of April, but renters will still have to pay their bills when the bans are lifted, and they may have to pay additional fees, Washington Post reported.
The federal government issued a 120-day moratorium on evictions from federally subsidized housing or from a property with a federally backed mortgage loan, USA Today reported. At least 34 states issued broader moratoriums on evictions as of Tuesday, either through governors’ executive actions or orders by state supreme courts.
But the federal moratoriums do not cover more than 40 million renters or 5 million homeowners with mortgage loans not backed by the government.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 70: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin goes solo to discuss the COVID-19 crisis. He talks about the failed leadership of Trump, Andrew Cuomo, CDC Director Robert Redfield, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and New York Mayor de Blasio.
On social media, #RentZero and #RentRelief have blown up in recent days. People urged President Donald Trump and their local politicians to do more to protect renters as they’re being told to shelter at home but are losing their jobs and struggling to pay rent.
Ocasio-Cortez is a progressive Democratic Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district. She has a reputation for going up against the Democratic party establishment. Her district includes the eastern part of the Bronx and parts of Queens in New York City.
Cuomo also believes he is progressive. “I believe I am the most progressive, or one of the most progressive leaders in the state,” the governor said in a July 2019 interview, New York Times reported.