Thousands of protesters in New York who refused to pay rent in April and May are rushing to pay their fair share to the Department of Taxation and Finance after Gov. Cuomo seized all private rental property on International Workers’ Day.
“I have the money. I just wasn’t going to pay in solidarity with tentants who can’t afford it,” said Alfred E. Neuman of Queens, who hasn’t missed rent in 40 years. “But then Gov. Cuomo made it all public. I mean, what kind of deadbeat doesn’t pay their fair share in taxes?”
Neuman was part of the biggest rent strike in decades as thousands across the country used International Workers’ Day to demand that states freeze rent during the coronavirus pandemic.
In New York, the 12,000 residents who had pledged not to pay rent immediately wrote checks to the tax department when they heard that Cuomo had converted their apartments into public housing. Some even paid an extra $20 for overnight delivery.
Josef Schwammberger was leaving his apartment for a protest at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mansion in Albany when he heard the news.
“I’ve been buying takout food for a month in solidarity with my neighborhood restaurants,” Schwammberger said as he put his rent check into the mailbox. “But my conscience wouldn’t let me pay my rent until I found out the tax department is my new landlord.”
Experts say rents are likely to rise by 25%, but that anyone who protests would be a capitalist reactionary pig and should expect to lose their job if they have one.