Albany, NY—Housing advocates, including Citizen Action of New York, tenants and community leaders across the state, participated in a statewide day of action in response to Governor Cuomo’s failure to cancel rent and house our homeless during the pandemic. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers are without permanent housing and millions of tenants are on the verge of homelessness.
Banner drops occurred in Albany, on the fence of the Governor’s Mansion, and at the Empire State Plaza. Other banners were dropped in Binghamton, Buffalo, New York City, Rochester and Syracuse.
“The tenants of this state are suffering through an inability to pay their rent in the middle of a pandemic. Instead of addressing this, Governor Cuomo is focused on bailing out billionaires and policing poverty,” said Chrisitian Parra, Citizen Action of New York community organizer. “The Governor must act now on behalf of the most impacted people of this state and immediately cancel rent.”
Advocates are calling on the Governor to immediately provide relief to tenants and house already homeless New Yorkers in hotels. Housing advocates rallied outside of Cuomo’s briefing weeks ago, prompting his executive order to issue a modified eviction moratorium until August 20. This most recent order is nothing more than a publicity stunt which does nothing to delay mass evictions and displacement once the original moratorium ends.
“New Yokers are suffering historically high unemployment levels as a result of the pandemic and when we lose our jobs, we are also losing our health insurance when we need it most,” said Ursula Rozum, coordinating committee member with the New York State Poor People’s Campaign. “Governor Cuomo can choose to cancel rent and pass guaranteed universal healthcare. New York State has 112 billionaires—they can afford to pay more taxes in order to ensure basic rights for the rest of us. The governor and New York State lawmakers need to decide: Which side are they on?”
“Housing is healthcare. Housing is a human right. PUSH has cancelled the rent for the past two months for our residential and commercial tenants. It’s past time that Governor Andrew Cuomo do the same for all New Yorkers. We can’t wait one more day,” said Harper Bishop, deputy director of movement building with PUSH Buffalo. “While we call on other housing providers to take similar actions to support their community members instead of shareholders and multinational banks, ultimately this is an issue that demands a bold response from all levels of government. As a member of the statewide Housing Justice For All and the National #HomesGuarantee campaigns, we’ve joined tens of thousands of community members and advocates from across the state and country in advocating for immediate cancellation of rent.”
“Governor Cuomo put profits over people as he continues to ignore the homelessness and housing crisis in New York State that already existed prior to this pandemic and has been exacerbated by COVID-19,” said Luke Grandis, statewide organizer with VOCAL-NY. “Housing is healthcare. Cuomo and the New York State legislature cannot say they care about the health of New Yorkers without taking action to cancel rent for all tenants and house all New Yorkers who are homeless.”
Homelessness has skyrocketed since Cuomo took office, and his response to Covid-19 has been woefully inadequate toward tenants, while the 2020-21 New York State budget made no new investments in housing and let billionaires off the hook.