With Rent Bill on Hold, Ithaca Tenants Union Moves Forward with New Initiatives

In June, Ithaca’s Common Council passed a resolution that promised to do what no other city in the nation had before: Request authorization to cancel three months’ rent for its citizens. The measure, which was approved on a 6-4 vote with the support of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09, asked the city government to seek approval from the New York State Department of Health to grant the mayor power to forgive three months of rental payments. As unemployment skyrocketed amid one of the sharpest economic downturns in American history, the Cornell undergraduate-led Ithaca Tenants’ Union first began its campaign to fight for rent forgiveness over March, April and May. After weeks of sustained advocacy — most notably through “phone zaps” to local politicians — the union was able to count on the support of the mayor and several council members. But despite its much-publicized rollout, Albany hasn’t approved the resolution, and it is unclear how seriously it was ever considered.