Thanks to a newly-passed resolution, Ithaca, New York could become the first U.S. city to cancel rent during the coronavirus pandemic.
The resolution, which still requires state approval, would not only erase rent debt accrued over the last three months but also cancel rent payments for both tenants and small businesses going forward, Fast Company reports. If enacted, it would make Ithaca a national leader as rent-related anxiety sweeps the U.S.
In a May poll, about 20 percent of American adults said that they had little to no confidence that they would be able to pay their rent or mortgage in June, Axios reports. Without relief, Princeton University Eviction Lab analyst Alieza Durana warns that the resulting wave of evictions would be catastrophic.
“The run-of-the-mill devastation that normally occurs in the wake of an eviction is further amplified by the conditions of this pandemic and economic crisis itself,” Durana told Axios.
Ounce of Prevention
That’s why Ithaca’s rent freeze stands to vastly improve on existing measures, like temporary eviction bans.
“It’s sort of rescheduling the problem rather than solving it,” Ithaca Tenants Union organizer Genevieve Rand told Fast Company about eviction bans.
By relieving residents of rent payments instead of merely pushing the problem back, Ithaca could give them a chance to get back and actually stay on their feet.
READ MORE: Ithaca, New York, is the first U.S. city to say it will cancel rent during the pandemic [Fast Company]