It has been an incredible month: terrifying, humbling, and very revealing. Our elected officials are scrambling to keep up with the rapidly changing circumstances day to day. While New York City, the “epicenter” of the COVID-19 crisis, scrambles to prepare for the brunt of the first major wave in the US, medical supplies and staff are quickly being procured to weather the storm.
People have to stay home to stay safe, and businesses legally have to close to protect their patrons and their employees; that means that a lot of folks are out of work, which means a lot of people can’t pay rent, which then means a lot of people can’t pay mortgages or maintain their rental property. Some people don’t know where they are going to get money for food in April. It is a difficult time to say the least.
Resources and information are scattered hither and yon throughout the internet. In an attempt to alleviate a small part the pressure for New Yorkers, we hope you find this first of the month guide useful.
Should I pay rent this month?
- Technically, yes. No suspension of rent or change in the due date of rent has been passed or enacted by executive order.
- On March 20th, Governor Cuomo signed a 90 day moratorium on evictions in New York State. Legally, you still have to pay rent, but if you can’t pay rent, you also can’t be evicted, at least for 90 days.
- There has been no concrete legislation around what happens on the other side of this thing.
- If you don’t pay rent, will you then owe all your back rent at once when the state of emergency is lifted?
- WIll the city, the state, or the federal government step in with rent grants for people who couldn’t pay due to COVID-19?
- The truth is, we don’t know yet, and probably won’t by Wednesday, April 1st.
- So, if you can’t pay rent due to the COVID-19 crisis, call or email your landlord to let them know and see if an arrangement can be reached. Remember, they can’t evict you right now. Since we don’t know what relief for renters is coming, it is important that you document all interactions with your landlord, so that there is a record of agreements made and guidance given.
- Check and see if your landlord is on the “Watch List.”
- Curbed put together a great list of Tenants Rights, READ IT HERE.
- It is important to note that you CAN NOT be evicted or asked to leave your home because you have tested positive for COVID-19 or are symptomatic.
- If your landlord or their management company has a history of harassment, threats, shutting off heat or other utilities, or does not maintain the building properly, seek counsel with Legal Aid, or call the Met Council Hotline to prepare for any interaction with your landlord. Know your rights, and be up to date on the current law.
- Call the Met Council Hotline for more information on the law and your rights as a tenant.
- Mon 1:30-8pm/ Tues 5:30-8pm/ Wed 1:30-8pm/ Friday 1:30-5pm
- If they don’t answer, you can’t leave a message because their mailboxes are full. But, fear not: their operators are fielding a lot of calls, and will get back to you. We got a call back about an hour and a half after we called. Here’s the website for the hotline.
- The Tenant Protection Hotline
- M-F, 10am-4pm
- Legal Aid Society
- Call the Met Council Hotline for more information on the law and your rights as a tenant.
- You can apply for an HRA One Shot Deal
- NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for a “rent freeze,” on all rent stabilized units in New York City. That DOES NOT mean that rent will not be collected; it means that rent will not be increased for leases that are to be renewed. However, he only “called” for it; he is still working with the state to enact it.
- NYS Tenant Protection Unit
- Legal Aid
- In Depth Guides from other trusted News Sources
- The Right to Counsel NYC Organization.
- Housing Justice for All
- Find information on proposed Senate Bill that would suspend rent for residential and commercial leases HERE.
- Check out the Landlord Watch List put together by Public advocate Jumaane Williams.
Should I pay my mortgage this month?
- It is unclear if Mortgages are officially suspended in New York State or if Banks, for now, are doing it voluntarily.
- The REAL DEAL reported:
- Editor Note, March 20, 2020, 2:48 p.m.: In a memo issued several hours after Cuomo announced the move during a live broadcast press conference, the Department of Financial Services said it would “urge” lenders to suspend mortgage payments and foreclosures. A spokesperson for the agency later confirmed that the guidance was not mandatory.READ MORE HERE
- The REAL DEAL reported:
- If your mortgage is backed by the federal government, provisions of the recently enacted CARES Act allow you to suspend payments for up to 12 months.
- You will not be charged late fees or reported to credit bureaus.
- Foreclosures and evictions will be suspended for at least 60 days.
- If your loan is not federally backed, contact your loan servicer or state or local government offices to find out what options you have.
- For a complete run-down of all forbearances, allowances, and suspensions in the CARES ACT GO HERE. Or we found this site’s rundown to be very helpful too.
- Invenstopedia has a good guide to navigating requests and applications for property owners, read it HERE.
- Every Bank is different, and a general guidance for best practices was issued on how to work with consumers on their mortgages during this time. To read the CARES ACT Guidance, go HERE.
- Some banks have made it more complicated to halt payments by removing autopay from their websites, or not making any information available to their customers.
- Currently there is NOT a lot of clarity around forbearance. Some banks are saying that all missed payments will be due at the end of the State of Emergency, and some are just going to add payments without penalty to the back end of the loan. CALL YOUR BANK and find out what they are offering.
- If the terms are unfavorable, it may be worth it to try and pay the mortgage. Depending on the kind of property you own you may be eligible for a grant or a low-no interest loan to cover your expenses during the COBID-19 crisis. SEE BELOW: “What do I do if I have a small Business?”
- NYS put up a “KNOW YOUR OPTIONS” Info page, read it HERE.
- The National Apartment Association has some guidance for property management HERE.
What do I do if I have a Small Business?
Apply for grants!
- 5 or less employees?
- The city is offering 40% of payroll costs for two months to help retain employees, if you meet the criteria. You Can Apply for the NYC Employee Retention Grant Program HERE.
- 100 or less employees?
- The city is offering 0% interest small business loans of up to $75,000
- You Can Apply for the NYC Small Business Continuity Loan Fund HERE
- The US Small Business Administration is offering disaster assistance in the form of “low interest” loans to businesses, renters, and homeowners. The loans can give up to $2 Million.
- NOTE: Trump Signed a bill making it possible for a $10,000 Advance on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for emergency capital. However, the SBA has not updated their system yet so while you can still apply for the loan now, you will have to re-apply for the $10K when the SBA adjusts their system in “the coming days.” You can apply for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program here.
- The Paycheck Protection Program from the CARES ACT is available now to a wider range of small businesses. To qualify, you must be using the money to pay workers, maintain payroll, or make mortgage lease or utility payments. The loan could even be fully or partially forgiven if some or all employees remain employed through June. INC.com did an in depth breakdown HERE. Forbes also does a breakdown of the program HERE.
- Eater did a great breakdown of what resources are out there for restaurants and restaurant workers. READ IT HERE.
When are my Taxes Due?
- NEW FEDERAL DEADLINE FOR TAX FILING: July 15, 2020
- NEW NY STATE DEADLINE FOR TAX FILING: July 15, 2020
I am out of money right now, what do I do?
- Go to the Human Resources Administration (HRA) website.
- There you can apply for Food Stamps (SNAP), Cash Assistance (CA), Medicaid, and Fair Fares. https://a069-access.nyc.gov/accesshra/
- Apply for Unemployment
- VISIT NY LABOR for UNEMPLOYMENT ONLINE or Call 888-469-7365
- You can only file for unemployment if you were let go, laid off, or your job ended.
- If you are self-employed, a gig economy worker, or a freelancer the NYS Labor Department is saying: Not yet, but maybe soon. Read the statement below.
- Currently, most self-employed individuals and independent contractors working in New York State are not authorized to obtain unemployment insurance benefits. However, in certain situations, the President of the United States may authorize Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), a federally funded program that provides unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who have lost work or income in disaster areas even if they don’t usually qualify for unemployment insurance. Self-employed workers and independent contractors would be covered by DUA. On March 16, the Governor submitted a request asking the President to authorize DUA in light of impacts COVID19 is having on New York State. That request is still pending with the President.
- For the FAQ on NYS unemployment go here.
- NYS Court of Appeals just made a decision that said that delivery workers for Postmates were entitled to unemployment benefits. It sets a precedent in NY for other companies like Uber. Read More HERE.
- You can get a list of food pantries or cooked meals from the city HERE, or call 866-888-8777 or 311.
- If you have a child in the K-12 age range you can pick up free meals between 7:30 AM and 1:30 PM. To Find a location near you go HERE.
- If you are having trouble paying your utility bills as a renter OR a homeowner, you can apply for HEAP.
- NY Department of Public Service orders utility companies to suspend rate increases.
- Your utilities will NOT be shut off during the COVID-19 Crisis. Companies in NY and NJ voluntarily agreed to halt all shut-off. Read more about it in Politico.
- Enrollment for health insurance has been opened up through April 15th
Will I get a $1200 check from the federal government?
- If you made less than $75,000 you are eligible for a $1,200 check.
- If you filed jointly and combined you both made a total of $150,000 or less you will get $2,400
- All of the above reflects your most recent tax filing status. If you’ve already filed 2019 taxes, it’ll use that address: if not, it will use your 2018 address.
- Money should be in the mail, April 6. Last time the government did anything like this was 2008, and in some cases the checks were delayed eight weeks.
- You’ll still get your check if you’re on Social Security, as long as your total income is below the threshold.
- If you were above the threshold in your last filing, but you lost your job in the interim, you most likely won’t get a check: you can use a rebate against your 2020 taxes. (They might try and fix this, they just haven’t yet.)
- For more details, check out this summary by the Washington Post.
- The New York Times also made a helpful guide to understanding the relef checks. Read it HERE.
- Private relief funds
- Restaurant Workers
- Restaurant Workers Community Foundation has put together a list of resources for people working in the food service industry. Find it HERE.
- Non Profits
- The Ford Foundation and a slew of other big wig companies launched a NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund To Support New York City Nonprofit Organizations. Find Out more info HERE. The Application is available HERE “The New $75 Million Fund will Provide Grants and Loans to New York City-Based Social Services and Cultural Organizations to Support Them in the COVID-19 Pandemic”
- Gen Pop
- Leveler is a tool for people with job security to help people whose work status has been impacted by COVID-19. It matches you with ten people, and recommends an equal donation to all ten. https://www.leveler.info/
- Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts put together a list of private funds for people working in the arts. Find it HERE, and a list of EMERGENCY FUNDING for Artists HERE.