In a letter to the City’s Housing Authority, Public Advocate de Blasio called on the agency to postpone rent collection for tenants stranded without power, heat and water by Hurricane Sandy. Roughly 79,000 tenants in public housing were left without power following the storm. The Housing Authority has pledged to credit affected tenants for days spent without essential services, but will not do so until January. De Blasio warned that forcing tenants to pay their full rent up front—more than they actually owe—would compound the financial hardship many have faced.
Read the full letter:
November 12, 2012
Chairman John B. Rhea
New York City Housing Authority
New York, NY, 10007
Dear Chairman Rhea:
I urge the New York City Housing Authority to immediately change its policy regarding rent collection for tenants that have been without power, heat or hot water since Hurricane Sandy. Nearly 7,000 NYCHA tenants remain without electricity two weeks after the storm hit. It is unacceptable to charge full rent up front for tenants who in many cases are still living in the dark.
While NYCHA has committed to giving these tenants a rent credit in January of 2013, this policy in no way reflects the immediate needs of affected developments. NYCHA should cease rent collection in affected developments until basic services are restored, such as electricity, heat and hot water. No tenant in public housing should be forced to pay the City for rent they do not actually owe.
I have seen firsthand the dire conditions facing tenants stranded in public housing buildings without basic services. Many of these tenants have lost income and incurred substantial out-of-pocket costs to provide for their families throughout this crisis. At a time when thousands are still grappling with basic human needs like hot water, warm food and a warm place to sleep, we cannot impose additional and unnecessary costs.
NYCHA has cited logistical reasons for issuing credits at a later date. These challenges cannot take precedence over the daily struggles facing tenants. We must cease rent collection now and bill tenants in the future for only the amount they truly owe.
I look forward to your reply to this urgent matter.
Bill de Blasio
Public Advocate for the City of New York