Shelterforce: Did Ithaca Really Cancel Rent?
Ducson Nguyen, alderperson for Ithaca’s Second Ward, expressed skepticism that the state health department would approve the request, but maintained that the effort would pressure state legislators to enact more meaningful and effective action. “I’m hoping that even if the Department of Health doesn’t allow this, the New York state Senate and the state Assembly see this incredible need [and] that this crisis is looming.”
Nguyen, who introduced the resolution, agrees with McGonigal’s concerns regarding the city budget, but cites it as a reason to support rent cancellation. “The problem at the local level is that we don’t have much money. We have limited ability to borrow, unlike the federal or state government,” Nguyen says. “I say this as a homeowner and a landlord myself, that being able to own something is a huge privilege. . . . It’s incumbent on us to find a solution that works for the people who have less flexibility in that regard. Landlords will say that it’s not fair to take from me to give to someone else. And that’s why we’re attempting to ask the state to find a solution that lessens the impact on particularly smaller landlords.”