REBNY calls for extension of eviction moratoriums as restaurants plea for help

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The Real Estate Board of New York is calling for an extension of eviction moratoriums in the city.

As New York State’s current eviction moratoriums are set to expire soon, and as New York State officials enact additional restrictions on business operations – such as indoor dining – to address the latest increase in COVID-19 cases and protect public health, REBNY President James Whelan said federal aid is “long overdue.”

But he said, the end of the current moratorium will create enormous challenges for residents and businesses unable to pay rent due to the impacts of COVID-19.

JAMES WHELAN

Whelan said, “The City and State should recognize similar challenges facing property owners.

“For property owners who have difficulty making property tax payments on a timely basis, the City should work with them to provide more time to do so. The State Legislature should also pass previously introduced legislation that would significantly reduce the current, excessively high interest rates incurred by late property tax payments in light of the immense financial pressure on property owners throughout the pandemic.”

The real estate spokesman added, “As the State enacts restrictions on business operations to prioritize the health and safety of New Yorkers, it is also clear that too many hardworking small business owners will now be simply unable to manage their dire financial situations in the immediate term.

“City and State officials can and should address this serious issue by forgiving sales tax payments and imposing a moratorium on all City and State fees owed by businesses that are subject to new restrictions related to COVID-19. Taking such action could make the difference between keeping thousands of small businesses afloat or seeing them close forever.”

The call came as more than 1,000 New York restaurant workers, restaurant owners and operators, industry supporters and trade groups rallied in Times Square to call on the federal government to pass the The RESTAURANTS Act, an industry-specific stimulus program to help mitigate the economic and social devastation caused by the pandemic.

The campaign is being backed by groups including the New York State Latino Restaurant, Bar & Lounge Association, the NYC Hospitality Alliance and others.

NYC Hospitality Alliance President Melba Wilson speaks at the Times Square rally.

With over 1,000 restaurants already permanently closed and tens of thousands of industry jobs lost, New York City’s restaurant industry is on its last legs and many are fearing further collapse in the near future if the government doesn’t act soon.

In addition to urging the federal passage of The RESTAURANTS Act, the rallying group called on the state and city government to do their parts to save the industry by extending and strengthening the commercial rent eviction moratorium through 2021, converting current sales taxes into cash grants for restaurant owners, eliminating unfair local taxes, and enhancing unemployment benefits for the thousands of workers who have lost their jobs or who will as a result of the shutdown on indoor dining.

“It’s now or never,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, and guest speaker at the rally. “New York City’s restaurant industry leads the nation and is essential to the economic and social fabric of the city. We need the federal government to pass The RESTAURANTS Act now! Another round of PPP funding will not save this city’s beloved restaurants and critical jobs.”

“When considering the cost in terms of jobs and revenue, the impact of empty store fronts on neighborhoods and other local businesses, and the repercussions for tourism and spending from commuters and daily visitors, the government can’t afford to NOT save the industry,” said Rigie.

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