New York Housing Groups Call for ‘Massive Wave’ of Rent Strikes

New York City housing activists are gearing up for a “massive wave” of rent strikes.

They’re calling on tenants across the city to withhold payments beginning May 1 to pressure Governor Andrew Cuomo into canceling rent while much of the economy is shut down.

“With so many New Yorkers unable to pay rent for the foreseeable future, the current crisis is unsustainable and demands action,” groups including Housing Justice for All and New York Communities for Change said in a statement Thursday. “Many tenants have no ability to pay rent, and landlords can’t collect rent from tenants who are broke.”

The groups want to organize 1 million New Yorkers and get the governor to cancel rent payments at least for April, May and June.

While many states and cities have imposed eviction moratoriums during the public health crisis, housing groups around the country have been advocating for the government to do more amidwidening job losses.

Landlords have been bracing for missed rent. So far, though, about 84% of tenants in a national sample have made a full or partial payment for April, according to a survey released Wednesday by the National Multifamily Housing Council. That was an improvement from an earlier snapshot that showed rent collections weredown steeply this month.

Undocumented immigrants, in particular, will have a hard time making up missed rent payments and may face a massive wave of evictions after restrictions are lifted, said Lena Melendez, an activist who said her building was going on rent strike.

Landlords “have gotten looked after,” Melendez said.

“They have gotten tax abatements and deferments on their mortgages.And tenants have just gotten a temporary freeze, a pause, on evictions,” she said.

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