May 5, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Several Queens Congress Members have demanded the national cancellation of all rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic – and for six months afterward.
Lawmakers Grace Meng, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Carolyn Maloney, Nydia Velázquez and Hakeem Jeffries wrote to House and Senate leaders Tuesday urging them to include these provisions as part of the next federal stimulus package. The letter was signed by five other New York City Congress Members.
The group said that the economic shutdown has caused unprecedented unemployment and that many people will end up homeless if rent and mortgage payments are not forgiven.
“For families with little to no savings to fall back on, this has been, and will continue be, catastrophic as they try to keep food on the table, cover the cost of prescription drugs, or meet other expenses,” the letter states.
“Further, as state unemployment systems face an unprecedented and overwhelming demand, millions more are expected to lose their sources of income,” it reads.
Under the plan, a fund would be created and administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development whereby landlords would be reimbursed the cost of canceling rent for their tenants. This universal program would ensure that all renters are covered without introducing costly bureaucratic measures that would slow the receipt of aid, the group said.
Homeowners would also be able to get their mortgage payments forgiven through the same program. This would preserve homeownership for families and avoid investors taking advantage of potential bankruptcy auctions in the property market, the letter states.
The program would extend to include anyone with a current residential lease, small private landlords, public housing authorities, nonprofit organizations and housing cooperatives.
The letter did not outline how much the entire program would cost although Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Ocasio-Cortez, told the New York Post that rent cancellation alone would cost about $66 billion per month.
Seems like the Federal government should do something about rent and mortgages pic.twitter.com/GhHvFJM2vx
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 2, 2020