‘Sick Empire’: The Effects COVID-19 Has Had On Rent Payments in NYC

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In the second episode of “Sick Empire,” host Branden Janese talks about how monthly rent doesn’t stop in New York City, even during the pandemic.

During the coronavirus pandemic, 40 million people have filed for unemployment, Fortune reported. Janese discusses why making rent is a huge problem for New Yorkers, even though it wasn’t a problem before the pandemic. She also talks about how the pandemic, which has over 200,000 cases in New York City, has impacted the homeless population.

Since the pandemic began, there have been calls by activists across the nation to put a pause on rent payment. The #CancelRent movement has called for rent strikes and for landlords to not evict tenants until the pandemic ends. In March, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suspended mortgage payments and foreclosures, Politico reported.

In May, 25 percent of New York City tenants did not pay rent, according to The Real Deal. Leaders of the #CancelRent movement has said Black communities, who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, are now also experiencing police violence, as communities around the continue to fight against police brutality following the death George Floyd.

“Black people are getting killed by COVID-19 and cops. Many of us have no money to pay rent in June or for the rest of the summer. Our jobs are gone, and aren't coming back. Our government has abandoned us. We’re at a breaking point. We’re going to take our pain directly to the doorsteps of those who think they can hide from us in their mansions this summer. #CancelRent is a battle cry – not some polite slogan. We’re at war with the corporations and super rich who don’t care if we lose our homes or our lives. They are making loads of money at our expense,” Donnette Leftord, who has been unemployed since March because of COVID-19, said in a statement to Progressive Cities obtained by The North Star.

The podcast “Sick Empire,” which was released in May, is a podcast that focuses on giving a voice to Black and Brown communities living in New York City during the coronavirus pandemic.

“If listeners can leave each episode of ‘Sick Empire’ with one takeaway, I hope that it’s a finer tuned awareness towards the struggle of your neighbors. This podcast engages and represents every voice in the city,” said Janese in a previous statement. “I feel that ‘Sick Empire’ introduces stories that reroute our points of view – to a place where diversity is not a distraction, but a connection.”

Members of The North Star can get a first listen at the second episode of Sick Empire by clicking here.


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