Daily News: NY Lawmakers Want Next Federal Coronavirus Stimulus Package to Cover Rent

Originally published in Daily News

On April 15, 2020, Denis Slattery of the New York Daily News published a story covering Senator Kavanagh's request with Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and 200 other elected officials and advocates to the New York Congressional delegation, calling for federal COVID-19 relief funds for rental assistance in the state. The article also discusses Kavanagh's recently introduced bill that would provide housing vouchers to those with great need (S7628A/A9657A). The full text of the story is below; the original version is available via the link above.

N.Y. Lawmakers Want Next Federal Coronavirus Stimulus Package to Cover Rent
By Dennis Slattery
April 15, 2020

ALBANY — A pair of New York politicians want to ensure Congress keeps renters in mind as they prepare the next coronavirus stimulus package.

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Queens) and Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan) penned a letter Wednesday to New York’s congressional delegation calling on the federal government to provide $100 billion in stimulus money for residential rental assistance, with 10% of the funds going to New York.

The proposal dovetails with state legislation that lays out how the money would be distributed among tenants. A bill introduced late last month by Kavanagh calls for vouchers to be issued to renters who have suffered a severe economic hit due to the ongoing epidemic.

“It’s designed to pay rent for anybody who’s lost income, a significant loss of income, and it’s different from typical government subsidy programs in that it covers a much higher rent than those programs normally cover because the idea is to keep all New Yorkers ... in their homes,” Kavanagh told the Daily News. “And, significantly, it makes sure their landlords are getting the money they need to pay their taxes and maintain their buildings and pay their workers.”

Kavanagh believes the bill, which includes adjustments for dependents and elderly or disabled family members, as well as child care and medical expenses, could act as a national model.

Currently, Gov. Cuomo has placed a moratorium on evictions while the state grapples with the spread of the deadly COVID-19 disease, but tenant groups and advocates believe more needs to be done to assist hard-hit New Yorkers who just don’t have the income to cover rent. Many fear a wave of evictions once the crisis resolves.

The previous federal stimulus package passed last month included roughly more than $12 billion for various HUD programs, $5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant, $4 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants and $1.25 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance.

New York lawmakers say more needs to be done to assist renters across the board.

In their letter, Kavanagh and Hevesi warn the economic impact of the coronavirus could lead to a “dramatic and dangerous increase in the number of New York State residents who lose their housing.”

A wide-ranging collection of more than 200 elected officials, advocates, and representatives of the real-estate industry, all signed off on the letter.

Hevesi said he believes that it is incumbent upon the government to protect New Yorkers who are facing dire straits due to no fault of their own.

“Rental assistance is critical to ensuring that vulnerable New Yorkers are not disproportionately affected by the current lockdown,” Hevesi said. “People who are homeless and housing insecure are being exposed to COVID-19 at significantly higher rates, which has serious implications on their ability to weather this crisis and recover both physically and financially.”