UTICA, N.Y. – Local residents and organizations came together during a virtual press conference Wednesday to urge the city of Utica to use federal stimulus funding for rental assistance.
Tenants and property owners joined the meeting, as well as members of Citizen Action of New York and the Utica Common Council.
Council members Celeste Friend and Delvin Moody have already introduced a resolution that would help tenants experiencing financial hardships during the coronavirus pandemic.
Friend and Delvin’s legislation would create an emergency rental voucher program.
“Rent relief is good for everyone. Obviously, it most directly benefits people who might be at risk of being evicted once this crisis has passed. But it is also good for landlords who don't want to have to evict their tenants, or who depend on the rental income to pay their bills. And it is good for all of us, who don't want to see a spike in the homeless population in this city,” said Friend, who oversees the third ward.
Utica will receive nearly $1.5 million in federal funding to prevent homelessness during this crisis.
Many renters in Utica who were laid off or had their hours reduced due to state mandates are struggling with making ends meet.
"My tenant was one of those unfortunate people who lost her job when the bars and restaurants closed,” said Senada Kadic, a local property owner. “Instead of adding to her stress and expecting the rent from her during a really hard time, I decided to forgive it and work with her moving forward. While I knew this would make it harder on me to pay my bills, the most important thing to me right now is people's health and safety.”
Citizen Action of New York’s Central New York chapter launched a petition a few days ago. For more information, or to sign the petition, visit: actionnetwork.org.