At Chhaya, we believe housing is a human right. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is monumentally clear that everyone needs to have a safe home in order to mitigate our current public health emergency and any future ones. Being secure in one’s home is just as much an issue of public health and safety, as it is an issue of financial and economic necessity. We also recognize that many of our community members are commercial tenants, whose livelihoods are at risk because of the pandemic. The extraordinary housing needs at this time are broad and interconnected. With this interconnectivity in mind, Chhaya’s team has crafted a holistic set of principles with the aim of alleviating the rent, debt, and cost burdens of tenants, homeowners, and small businesses.
Chhaya Secure Our Homes Principles
- Property Owners:
- Mortgage forgiveness: COVID Impacted homeowners should have mortgage payments during the months of the crisis forgiven. The debt write-down by the lenders can apply to interest payments, maintaining full payments on principle, and will represent a marginal cost to the lenders over the long term.
- Suspension of property taxes: Any homeowner or landlord impacted by the crisis through personal income loss or lost revenue from impacted tenants should be allowed to have their property taxes reduced or forgiven to offset the loss.
- Suspension of Utilities: Any homeowner impacted by the crisis should be allowed to suspend payments on utilities without service disruption
- Tax Liens: The City of New York should cancel the 2020 tax lien sale
- Small Landlord Assistance Fund: This crisis will cause many small homeowners and landlords to lose needed revenue for personal income and general building operations. Therefore, a state program should be created to provide direct relief to impacted small property owners
- Rent Forgiveness: The COVID crisis has disrupted livelihoods and incomes in an irreversible way. Tenants who have been impacted by the crisis should receive rent forgiveness, with no debt or arrears to be collected later, without onerous means testing that will discourage undocumented tenants and workers from the informal labor market.
- Suspension of Utilities: Any tenant impacted by the crisis should be allowed to suspend payments on utilities without service disruption
- Eviction Moretrum: An eviction moratorium should remain in place for the duration of crisis and not expire before the economy is able to recover
- Small Business Owners:
- Rent Forgiveness: For Small Business Owners, the fallout from the crisis has been two-fold: many cannot afford their homes or their commercial spaces if they are unable to operate. This is why Chhaya believes all businesses that are closed due to the COVID crisis should have their commercial rents forgiven.