TOMPKINS COUNTY, NY (WSKG) – The Ithaca Common Council recently passed a resolution asking the state and federal government to provide rent and mortgage assistance. If that doesn’t happen, the council wants the authority to cancel three months of rent. Currently, local governments don’t have that power.
The council members believe the action is necessary for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 70 percent of Ithaca residents are renters.
Rep. Tom Reed (NY-23) does not support the idea of rent cancellation like what is proposed in Ithaca. He called the idea extreme, utopian and unrealistic.
“Really? You think that this can work?” Reed said. “In the sense that you can waive rent and you can not have consequences that are going to impact those same people that you are trying to help.”
Reed said he favors financial support going to those who have continued to work throughout the pandemic.
Ducson Nguyen represents Ithaca’s Second Ward. He introduced the resolution. Nguyen said there will be negative consequences if nothing is done to help renters.
“People getting homeless or either needing to move into friends or family’s places which leaves a lot of vacancies which leaves the contractors unpaid, city taxes and utilities unpaid,” Nguyen said. “There’s a huge impact all the way down.”
Rent cancellation is not likely to happen any time soon. First, the New York Department of Health must give the city authority to take such action. After that the council must give authority to the mayor.
Ithaca’s mayor, Svante Myrick, said he wouldn’t take action without forming a working group of tenants and landlords to discuss any possible plans.