TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Human Services Coalition (HSC) is once again searching for feedback from the community’s renters and landlords to gauge the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on rental housing stability in Tompkins County.

An initial survey conducted over the summer, also led by HSC’s Coordinator of Housing Initiatives Liddy Bargar, was aimed at measuring the problems that renters have faced for any number of reasons—although primarily in terms of job loss or instability. It offered one of the only looks at the full scope of the coronavirus’ impact on renters and landlords in Tompkins County.

The survey for renters, which is anonymous, include 15 multiple choice questions dealing with someone’s housing history (in general terms), their income, and inquiries about how COVID-19 has affected their job status and ability to pay rent. It is available here.

Further, there is a separate survey for landlords, although this one asks for a name. It includes another 15 multiple choice questions, exploring how significant the impact of COVID-19 has been on their renters, and in turn the ability of their renters to pay their monthly bill. Beyond that, it asks if any of their tenants are close to eviction. The landlord survey is available here.

Rent, and assistance with it, has been one of the most prominent topics in Ithaca since March, when the state shut down in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ithaca Tenants Union, which formed briefly before the pandemic began, has made it a seminal point of their organization to push for rent forgiveness, assistance, and the like.

Progress seemed to be made when Mayor Svante Myrick signed an executive order in July asking the state for the right to forgive three months of rent for Ithaca renters, but the state has not granted permission for that order to actually take effect, which is required.

Other rental assistance programs have been established, by Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, Catholic Charities, Tompkins Community Action, Robin Fund through the Greater Ithaca Activities Center and Department of Social Services.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com