NEW YORK (May 28, 2020) - With thousands of New Yorkers wondering how they will pay their rent on June 1, Community Voices Heard and allies today called on NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to fix NYCHA’s broken rent recertification process. According to conservative estimates, the number of NYCHA households that are entitled to a rent reduction is at least 272% higher than the number of rent reductions that NYCHA has successfully administered since the beginning of COVID19.
“While NYCHA has taken steps to accommodate tenants who are unable to pay their current rent, the measures put forth are simply not enough,” said Community Voices Heard Executive Director Afua Atta-Mensah in a letter to Mayor de Blasio co-signed by leaders from fellow community organizing groups CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, New York Communities for Change and Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition. “Your administration must act to fix its broken rent recertification process.”
NYCHA residents applying for rent reductions have faced innumerable obstacles. Contrary to the NYCHA guidelines, residents have been told that they cannot self-certify without unemployment documentation or that they have not been out of work long enough to qualify. Many tenants have encountered difficulties getting help through NYCHA’s Customer Care Contact Line as well as through management offices. Language barriers continue to pose a significant problem for non-native English speakers.
Community Voices Heard is demanding that Mayor de Blasio’s administration take action to fix its broken rent recertification process by doing the following:
Immediately inform all residents of the new policy. Use a combination of direct mail, email, text and robocalls to every resident, as well as posters in every building, to ensure every resident who has lost income knows they are entitled to a rent reduction and can apply by calling the CCC line.
Send translated materials related to COVID-19 aid to all tenants, in tenants' preferred language. NYCHA collects this information for annual recertifications. This information should also be readily available if tenants call the NYCHA Repair Line or management offices. Tenants must also receive notice of their language rights in multiple languages in NYCHA's Language Access Plan.
Follow NYCHA’s policy. Train all management office staff, those working the CCC line and those responding to portal applications on the updated policy to ensure that no one is turned away for lack of documentation, time since work was lost, or not speaking English.
Automatically reduce rent for all residents in shut down industries. Use employment data on file to automatically reduce rent for residents of all industries that are shut down due to the pandemic.
Postpone all planned rent increases until 6 months after stay-at-home orders are fully lifted.