NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The true economic toll of shutting down most of New York City is comes into focus Wednesday: The first of the month, rent day.
Tenants and landlords are in a shared bond of pain amid estimates that as many as 40% won’t be able to make their April rent payments.
Katch Astoria Gastropub used to be a bustling place. The combination of regular business, plus events like weddings and communions, allowing the McSorley family to pay their landlord $18,000 a month in rent. Now they’re closed. Empty refrigerators are a sign of their empty pockets, and the anxiety of losing their livelihood, reported CBS2’s Marcia Kramer.
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“We’re panicked and we’re upset,” said Roseann McSorley. “We’re worried about the rent and the landlord calling and saying, ‘It’s April 1st, where are you?'”
“We’re in trouble and it’s not just us, it’s all the businesses,” Bill McSorley said.
With all but essential businesses closed for who knows how long, the problems at Katch Gastropub are the problems of tens of thousands of other small businesses – and it’s not just the rent.
“On a personal note, we have college tuition, we have kids looking to go to school, all kinds of bills behind us that this business supports. We’ve got a family to support. We’re not just a number,” Roseann said.
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Natalie Crooks is also worried about paying the rent. She and her boyfriend were furloughed from jobs at a West Village restaurant.
“It’s definitely causing a lot of stress,” Natalie said.
Landlords are in the same boat. Most of the city’s 25,000 landlords are small property owners, so if estimates are correct and 40% of tenants can’t pay, they could face foreclosure and lose their properties.
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“Clearly there’s going to be a dramatic impact… the mortgages are due,” said Joseph Strasburg, who heads the Rent Stabilization Association. “The city of New York will be demanding real estate taxes. So this will be a tremendous impact on small property owners.”
“We are trying to figure out do we scrape together the cash we have to pay the rent and put everything else on our credit cards,” Natalie said.
But if they do that, what happens next month? Which is why Queens Senator Michael Gianaris has introduced a bill to waive three months rent for tenants and three months mortgage payments for landlords.
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“Everyone’s having anxiety these days. I’m trying to turn high anxiety to a little less anxiety, where people being told they have to stay home at least have the comfort of knowing their home is secure for them,” Gianaris said.
It’s unclear whether Gianaris’ bill will pass.
Some are asking to allow renters to use their security deposits. Others are calling for a rent strike.
One thing everybody agrees on is that something needs to be done.