Landlords blast 'rent strike' protesters and say skipping payments by choice will hurt their ability to maintain buildings - but both sides call for federal relief for millions of jobless tenants

Landlords are slamming the 'rent strike' movement that calls for even those who are able to pay rent to skip payments, saying it would hurt tenants as well as landlords.
On May 1, protesters in New York, California, Chicago and Philadelphia called for a widespread rent strike to support those tenants who are out of work and unable to pay the rent.
In the past six weeks, at least 30 million have been left unemployed by mandatory shutdowns to stop the spread of coronavirus - and many are still waiting to receive unemployment checks or federal stimulus payments.
But for those who are still able to pay rent, skipping payments 'will actually hurt tenants as well as landlords,' said Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday. 
Choosing to skip rent payments 'will actually hurt tenants as well as landlords,' said Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program
Choosing to skip rent payments 'will actually hurt tenants as well as landlords,' said Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program
Protesters carry signs that read, 'Recovery 4 All' and 'Cancel Rent' during the coronavirus pandemic in Times Square on May 1 in New York City
Protesters carry signs that read, 'Recovery 4 All' and 'Cancel Rent' during the coronavirus pandemic in Times Square on May 1 in New York City
A sign with the message to 'CANCEL THE RENT' is displayed in a vehicle windshield as a caravan of protesters drives outside the offices of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 1
A sign with the message to 'CANCEL THE RENT' is displayed in a vehicle windshield as a caravan of protesters drives outside the offices of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 1

The trade group represents owners and managers of some 400,000 rent-stabilized properties across New York City.
'Unfortunately, a rent strike actually is detrimental to many of our owners' abilities to ensure that their buildings are safe and secure for the rest of the tenants of the buildings,' Martin said. 
'After all, 70 percent of our costs are fixed, that's property taxes, mortgage payments, water and sewer payments, cleaning costs, which are more important than ever now to make sure that these buildings are safe and sanitary for the rest of the tenants in the building,' he said.
While some protesters have called for government intervention suspending all rental payment during the pandemic, Martin says his group is pushing for a narrower intervention specifically to help those unable to pay.
'What we've been advocating for is for a federal relief package that targets relief directly towards those renters that cannot actually pay their rents,' Martin said. 
'We hope the federal government will consider specific targeted vouchers to those renters that haven't been able to get some sort of relief from the advanced unemployment benefits and some of the other benefits that have already passed in additional phases,' he said. 
Graffiti supporting the rent strike appears on La Brea Avenue on May 1 in Los Angeles
Graffiti supporting the rent strike appears on La Brea Avenue on May 1 in Los Angeles
A sign hangs on an apartment building in Brooklyn calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to cancel the rent as part of an organized rent strike on May 1
A sign hangs on an apartment building in Brooklyn calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to cancel the rent as part of an organized rent strike on May 1
A sign with the message to cancel rent is displayed from a vehicle as a caravan of May Day protesters drives outside the offices of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 1
A sign with the message to cancel rent is displayed from a vehicle as a caravan of May Day protesters drives outside the offices of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 1
Martin conceded that New York City residents had been hard-hit by the pandemic, but said that some were trying to take advantage of the situation.
'New York disproportionately has been impacted fiscally and financially by this crisis so we think there should be some considerations paid to the amount of renters that have been impacted,' Martin added.
'There are definitely people in need that need help from the federal government, state and local governments to pitch in and make sure that they can continue to pay the rent so that the economic engine doesn't collapse,' he said. 
'But, there's also some folks who are unfortunately taking advantage of this crisis to try to push a socialist business model takeover of private ownership and it is important that we dismiss them to focus on real solutions.' 
An estimated 12,000 unique tenants across 100 buildings in New York City participated in Friday's rent strike, according to preliminary figures from the advocacy group Housing Justice for All, a lead organizer of the movement. 
Sean Reilly, a Democratic Socialists of America member who along with four roommates in Brooklyn owes $3,100 per month, was among those refusing to pay.
Reilly still has work - he declined to go into the specifics of his job for fear of repercussions - but says numerous colleagues lost employment, and he's afraid he will be next. 
'I'm not gonna lie, it is scary saying to our landlord, we're not paying rent,' he said.
'I had a pit in my stomach when we sent that email, but that's what we have to be doing right now,' Reilly added.
Crown Heights building tenants Jose Sanchez, Sean Riley and Stephen Henderson stage a rent strike on May 1 in New York City
Crown Heights building tenants Jose Sanchez, Sean Riley and Stephen Henderson stage a rent strike on May 1 in New York City
Signs hang on an apartment building calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to cancel the rent as part of an organized rent strike in conjunction with May Day in Brooklyn on May 1
Signs hang on an apartment building calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to cancel the rent as part of an organized rent strike in conjunction with May Day in Brooklyn on May 1
His neighbor Stephen Henderson - whose household of four roommates splits paying $3,400 in rent each month - moved to the city from Colorado last summer and has lost all his freelance work in the television and film industry. 
More than half the tenants in Henderson and Reilly's five-unit building are striking.
'A lot of us are kind of trying to figure out where we're gonna get the money to eat in another month, let alone pay rent,' said Henderson.
Nearly two-thirds of New York's 8.6 million residents rent in a housing market where, according to tracker RentCafe, the average two-bedroom can run from $2,500 per month in Queens to more than $4,000 in Manhattan. 
In mid-March New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statewide evictions moratorium until June 20 - but Reilly says that's just 'kicking the can down the road.'
'People aren't getting the wages back that they've lost from losing their jobs,' he said, adding that his household is hoping to devise a payment plan but that without government help the situation is dire.
Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar introduced a recent bill to cancel rent and mortgage payments nationwide until the coronavirus pandemic ends
Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar introduced a recent bill to cancel rent and mortgage payments nationwide until the coronavirus pandemic ends
Kalman Zimmerman, a landlord and broker who operates throughout Brooklyn, said 'forgiving is very tough' for managers, who he says are also struggling to keep up with property taxes and mortgages.
'I'm totally for a rent freeze, if the government freezes tax payments and mortgages for landlords,' he said.
Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar introduced a recent bill to cancel rent and mortgage payments nationwide until the coronavirus pandemic ends, including relief for landlords.
She's found support among progressive lawmakers including New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but neither Republican President Donald Trump nor leading congressional Democrats have indicated such legislation is in the cards.
Though concrete prospects of a rent freeze might seem distant, Reilly says the longer the crisis lasts, the longer people will 'build consciousness.'
'Our movement is only going to get stronger,' he said. 'We're gonna damn well keep trying until we win.'
Landlords blast 'rent strike' protesters and say skipping payments by choice will hurt their ability to maintain buildings - but both sides call for federal relief for millions of jobless tenants Landlords blast 'rent strike' protesters and say skipping payments by choice will hurt their ability to maintain buildings - but both sides call for federal relief for millions of jobless tenants Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 04:04 Rating: 5

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