New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to ask federal officials to consider a rent moratorium for the city’s public housing residents as the city grapples with the economic toll of the new coronavirus.
Freezing rents for New York City Housing Authority Tenants would be “very fair,” but the city would likely need approval from federal housing officials, de Balsio said during his weekly Friday “Ask the Mayor” appearance on WNYC. Without making a firm commitment, de Blasio said that he would “get an answer” from the federal government by the end of the day.
“It’s a very fair request. It’s against the backdrop of, you know, an organization that 400,000 people are depending upon for their housing. And it’s something I’m pretty certain we could only do with federal approval because all the public housing is chartered by the federal government. But it’s a very, very fair request and I’ll get an answer on that today,” de Blasio said Friday.
The mayor’s comments came in response to a question asked by NYCHA resident from Jackson Heights, who said that he and many other public housing residents have lost their jobs and can no longer afford rents.
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Patch’s request for comment from a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development spokesman was not immediately returned.
A broader rent moratorium for New Yorkers would need to be done on a state level, de Blasio said Friday. As for actions that can be taken by the city, de Blasio cited efforts to institute a “rent freeze” for nearly 1 million rent-stabilized units in New York City by suspending the annual Rent Guidelines Board process.
“Clearly, this is the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. I think it’s quite clear why a rent freeze makes sense,” de Blasio said.
Housing activists in New York City anticipate rent strikes to occur in the coming months as New Yorkers lose their jobs in record numbers due to the state’s PAUSE order, which shuts down schools and nonessential businesses.
New York City Housing Authority complexes house nearly 400,000 residents across the city’s five boroughs and represent about 8% of the city’s total stock of apartments, according to the agency’s 2019 fact sheet. The agency oversees 316 developments with 2,351 residential buildings and 173,762 apartments, according to the fact sheet.