Costa Lambrou ’16, whose family runs Lambrou Real Estate and rents apartments to around 400 Cornell students, said a rent freeze would have to be accompanied by help for landlords.

Calls for Ithaca Rent Freeze Ramp Up; Mayor Supportive but Calls on Federal Government to Act

This post has been updated. 

With the COVID-19 outbreak requiring most New York State residents to stay home and stripping thousands of workers of their jobs, activists are calling for a rent freeze to protect Ithacans who have lost income. The Ithaca Tenants Union and a group of local activists is pressuring Ithaca’s mayor and Common Council members ahead of Wednesday’s council meeting. An online petition circulated by the ITU has over 4,300 signatures as of Monday afternoon. “With massive job losses already beginning now, how can we be expected to retroactively pay our rent when this crisis is over?” reads the petition, which demands Ithaca rents be “frozen by city legislative action immediately until the COVID-19 crisis passes.”

Genevieve Rand, a local organizer and a leader of the local push for a rent freeze, told The Sun that the issue is important to thousands of Ithacans, many of whom may have lost their income in the wake of COVID-19 closures. The campaign wrote a letter to Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 on March 22, calling on him to institute a rent freeze through the powers of the Common Council.

Ithaca's Common Council passed the 2020 budget last Wednesday, which calls for a provision of funds for the "Green New Deal."

Ithaca Common Council Passes 2020 Budget

After months of revisions, proposals and back-and-forth, the City of Ithaca has finally settled on a budget for the upcoming 2020 year. Passed at a meeting of Ithaca’s Common Council meeting last Wednesday, the plan — which lists $80,397,578 in total spending — carries few surprises.

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VALDETARO | If You Want Political Change in 2020 and Beyond, Go Local

For Ellie Pfeffer ’23 and Alec James Martinez ’18, October was a busy month. From her dorm room on North Campus, Pfeffer launched a write-in campaign for the 3rd Ward seat on the Ithaca Common Council against incumbent Rob Gearhart, advocating for increased resources to be put towards the Ithaca Green New Deal. In his hometown of Laredo, Texas, Martinez co-founded Red Wing Laredo, “An organization devoted to ensuring tierra, democracia, y libertad for everyone,” in response to a clean water crisis in the town almost three times the size of Flint, Michigan that resulted in a boil-water notice in late September. You’d be easily forgiven for not knowing about these efforts, given that they occurred in the context of an escalating impeachment inquiry in the House. In fact, that impeachment inquiry may have distracted you from the fact that there were statewide elections this year in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia, as well as local elections across the nation (including the one that Pfeffer participated in in Ithaca itself).