Coronavirus News: Proposed bill offers relief to NYC renters during COVID-19 crisis

NEW YORK (WABC) -- With so many New Yorkers no longer going to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a looming fear among the city's renters.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris is proposing a bill that would forgive rent and mortgage payments for 90 days for tenants, landlords, and small businesses out of work.

"If we don't do this, let's be clear, these rent payments are not getting made anyway," Gianaris said. "You can't pay with money that doesn't exist."

Last week Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that would instead "postpone" those payments.

"I don't know who you think you're going to rent an apartment to now anyway if you kick someone out," Cuomo said. "By my mandate, you couldn't even have your real estate agent out showing the apartment."

The Queens senator believes that if something is not done now to help the renters of New York City, then there will be an even bigger problem in the future.

"You're only setting yourself up for three months from now of having a wave of foreclosures and evictions," said Gianaris.

Roseann and Bill McSorley, restaurant owners in Astoria, had to close their restaurant on Sunday.

The McSorleys say they can get by paying rent for the short term, but if rent is not forgiven by April, they will be out of business for good.

"Maybe we'll put our finger in the dam, but that dam is gonna break."

Big banks will bear the burden if the bill passes because federal bailouts tend to focus on big industries first.

"The big boys know how to take care of themselves, and it tends to be what happens, and then the working people lower on the economic ladder get left behind," Gianaris said.

Under this bill, late fees would also be waived, and any lease that expires in that 90-day window would automatically be renewed, with the monthly rent unchanged.

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