N.Y.C., Facing Pandemic Fallout, Freezes Rent for 2 Million Tenants for a Year


The New York City panel that sets rents for the roughly 2.3 million residents of rent-regulated apartments on Wednesday froze those rents for a year, delivering a slight reprieve to tenants struggling in the worst economy in decades.

By a 6-to-3 vote, the panel, the Rent Guidelines Board, approved a measure that froze rents on one-year leases at their current levels and imposed a similar freeze in the first year of two-year leases, while allowing landlords to raise rents 1 percent in the second year.

The vote came after dueling proposals offered by the board’s tenant and landlord members failed. The tenant proposal would have frozen rents for two years, while the landlord members sought to raise rents 2 percent on one-year leases and 5 percent on two-year leases.

The board’s annual vote typically caps weeks of hostility and fierce tensions between landlords and tenants. But this year, with the coronavirus pandemic triggering an economic collapse and nationwide protests over racial inequality and injustice, the acrimony reached a fever pitch.

The rent freeze approved on Wednesday is the third under Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who appoints all of the board’s members. (Last year, the members approved a 1.5 percent increase for one-year leases and 2.5 percent on two-year leases.)

After the vote, landlords criticized Mr. de Blasio for playing “pandemic politics” and not taking their own precarious situation into consideration.

The mayor was “denying owners of small buildings, mostly immigrants and people of color, the rent revenue needed to operate their buildings, finance capital improvements, infuse jobs and revenue into their neighborhoods, and pay property taxes that he raises every year,” said Joseph Strasburg, the president of the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents some 25,000 landlords of rent-stabilized units.

Mr. de Blasio, who himself is a landlord, hailed the board’s action in a statement issued after the vote.

“Renters have never faced hardship like this,” he said. “They desperately need relief, and that’s why we fought for this rent freeze.”

The Rent Stabilization Association and other landlord groups have said that if tenants received a rent freeze, the city should enact a similar freeze for owners on property taxes and utilities.

The annual rent ritual, in which a city board with a bureaucratic name meets to decide the coming year’s housing costs for millions of New Yorkers, has long been a flash point that puts the grievances of tenants and landlords on full display.

The groups’ competing interests have clashed for decades, and they fought especially hard in recent times as housing costs, and landlords’ expenses, skyrocketed. The median monthly rent citywide on rent-regulated apartments was $1,260 in 2018, up from $910 in 2010. In Manhattan, it was $1,913.

But the meeting Wednesday night came amid an acute crisis that has thrust the issue of affordable housing to the forefront of daily conversations about inequality and economic survival.

  • Updated June 16, 2020

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


The pandemic has put millions of New Yorkers out of work, making rent payments nearly impossible for many at a time when the city already did not have enough affordable units to meet demand.

And the protests over racial injustice have expanded far beyond issues of police brutality, placing a glaring spotlight on the many disparities — including housing — that black people face. About two-thirds of tenants in rent-stabilized units in New York City are people of color.

Leah Goodridge, one of the board’s tenant members, cited the protests in offering the proposal for the two-year freeze.

She said it made her concerned “to see people be silent about the pain that caused the protests we’re seeing across the world but very vocal about property damage on account of the protests.” She drew a comparison between discussions of “the pain of landlords losing money” versus “tenants facing death and a poverty abyss from the coronavirus.”

The debate over whether and how to help New Yorkers pay their rent has been a constant topic of conversation over the course of the pandemic. Roughly 25 percent of rent-stabilized tenants have not paid rent in April, May and June, according to the Community Housing Improvement Program, or CHIP, a trade group for 4,000 building owners and managers.



Sahred From Source link Real Estate

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*