Op-Ed: All I Want for Mother’s Day is ‘Relief for All’

Jessica Franco

Director of Community Affairs for NY State Senator Julia Salazar

When I was 4 years old, my mother made the difficult decision to leave Mexico City with me and my brother to reach the United States, for the promise of a better life. As a single mother, she was barely able to afford an apartment and she worked incredibly hard to provide me with a better chance of success in life. We lived in Spanish Harlem at first, but after my aunt was stabbed, we moved out to Bushwick where we thought it was safer. 

I miss my mother very much, and I wish she could see me now. I own a small home in Cypress Hills, work for the state government helping create positive change, I have a husband, a family, and children of my own. I feel like I have achieved the American Dream that she had hoped I would achieve when she came here. This is what my mother crossed the border for.

Jessica Franco with her mother Rosa Calderon

However, I have also watched as the neighborhoods I grew up in changed beyond recognition, and not entirely for the better. Rents are rising while luxury apartments continue to be built by corporate developers. In 2008, I watched as my neighbors, many of them small homeowners of color who had the same pride in their homes, were foreclosed upon and lost everything because of the reckless practices of Wall Street banks and government action that favored the profits of the 1% rather than the livelihoods of my neighbors. More than 60,000 people, including many children, experience homelessness every night in New York, the wealthiest city in the wealthiest country in the history of the world. 

These problems all existed before COVID-19 uprooted our lives and devastated so many families, but they are now more glaring than ever because of the public health crisis we find ourselves in today. I am planning on spending time with my children and my husband this Mother’s Day, and remembering how lucky we all are to be safe right now as the virus spreads. But I know that our communities cannot endure this forever. Without relief from the state and federal governments, tens of thousands of people will be evicted from their homes, even more small businesses will go under, and small property owners like myself will have trouble making repairs or even lose our property to the bank. 

This is why I support S8190/A10318, The Emergency Coronavirus Affordable Housing Preservation Act of 2020, or “Relief for All”. Under this bill, small homeowners like myself, not-for-profit affordable housing providers, and residential housing cooperatives that have lost 10% or more of their income due to coronavirus-related government restrictions would be entitled to financial assistance to cover losses resulting from the pandemic. Residential tenants who can demonstrate any loss of income within two weeks of government-mandated coronavirus restrictions – and as a result of those restrictions – would be entitled to a 100% abatement of rent during the disaster period. Similarly, commercial small business tenants who closed their premises within two weeks of the government restrictions – and as a result of those restrictions – would also be entitled to a 100% rent abatement. 

I support this approach because it helps everyone in my community. It helps me as a small landlord. It helps my tenant, who would also able to obtain relief. It helps the local restaurant and bar owners that have had to close up shop. And it helps our community housing cooperatives and affordable housing providers maintain a high level of service. Once the eviction moratorium is lifted, tenants cannot be expected to repay all of the housing debt they’ve accrued during this crisis, and small landlords and homeowners will not be able to absorb the cost of this lost rental income. A massive wave of evictions will only lead to further corporate development and displacement of communities like mine. By passing Relief For All, we can preserve affordable housing, while keeping families in their homes and  businesses afloat. With no home left behind, and every rent paid, this is a unity bill that meets the needs of this moment.

For more news, sign up for Bushwick Daily’s newsletter.

Join the fight to save local journalism by becoming a paid subscriber

Latest articles

Related articles