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Rent strike misses the mark

Activists rally in summer 2019 in Brooklyn (Credit: New York Communities for Change)

Housing advocates are pushing for a statewide “rent strike” on May 1st. With all evictions suspended until June 20th, tenants won’t suffer immediate consequences if they withhold their rent. This comes on the heels of nearly 90% of U.S. apartment households paying all or at least part of last month’s rent as of April 19th, WSJ noted.

  • Activists will never be satisfied: Organizers are cynically asking people who can afford their rent to join the strike. The move exploits the tenants themselves with the goal of pressuring city and state leadership to respond by canceling rent all together. 
  • Heard on the Street: Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies: “I’m not sure there are too many housing-court judges that are going to look kindly on someone not paying rents because they felt it was unfair.”
  • Worth Noting: About one-third of U.S. households are renters, and nearly half of them were paying more than 30% of their incomes on rent and utilities before the pandemic struck. The City Council is seeking to pass a measure that would effectively extend the state’s eviction ban through at least Sept. 30th, and through April 2021 for tenants affected by the virus, TRD reported.
  • Extended unemployment benefits should suffice: Current New York State Unemployment Insurance ranges from $104 to $504 per week. The stimulus package added federal benefits, which provides workers with an additional $600 per week for four months. This means that an unemployed waiter who earned $52,416 last year will receive $4,416 per month. Multi-family landlords who aren’t overly leveraged should be fine. 

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