$1 billion in unpaid NYC rent due to COVID pandemic: Check your neighborhood here

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ByDan Krauth via WABC logo
Monday, February 22, 2021
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Dan Krauth reports on how much tenants haven't been paying in rent in New York City.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- One billion dollars. That's how much tenants haven't been paying in rent in New York City alone since the pandemic started.

Landlords can't evict people in New York right now, due to a moratorium. But many of them have been filing the paperwork to do so as soon as they are legally able.

7 On Your Side Investigates found big disparities in the eviction notices that have already been filed, which are affecting more people in minority communities and in the area's poorest neighborhoods.

"It's a real hardship for our clients who are just really having a hard time making ends meet as it is," said Matthew Tropp, an attorney the Legal Aid Society.

He represents hundreds of tenants who are struggling to keep their homes.

"We're seeing a lot more people who are saying, 'I lost my job, I can't find another one,' or, 'I'm just getting back on my feet now and then something else will happen," Tropp said.

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Eviction cases pending as of December 28 in New York City have been suspended until at least February 26, and if a tenant signs and delivers what's called a hardship declaration form due to COVID-19, they can't be evicted until at least May 1.

But since March of 2020, 7 On Your Side found eviction notices are at least twice as high in Black and Latino neighborhoods compared to predominately white neighborhoods.

Also, the notices are being filed at a rate of at least five times higher in the community's poorest neighborhoods compared to its wealthiest.

A majority of the top zip codes for eviction notices are located in the Bronx, including University Heights, Morris Heights, Highridge, Belmont and Morrisania.

They are communities that were already struggling before the pandemic, and some nonprofits have been trying to direct their resources to the hardest hit areas.

"We were really dealing with a crisis before the pandemic, so those who were vulnerable a year and a half ago just became even more vulnerable," said Lorraine Collins, of Enterprise Community Partners.

It's a problem for people on both sides of the issue.

7 On Your Side spoke with more than two dozen landlords who say they're having trouble paying their own bills.

"It's putting a big burden of my family," said Angela Task, a landlord in Brooklyn.

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Task said for the past nine months, she hasn't received rent from her tenant. But unlike renters, there's no relief for small property owners.

"It's really frustrating, and it's very difficult for me to manage my finances," she said. "I had to refinance the house. I had to borrow $20,000 that I have to pay back."

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