ITHACA, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Human Services Coalition (HSC) is asking for input from renters in the area by way of a third anonymous survey (found here).

The first renters’ feedback survey, done in July 2020, was closely related to COVID and its impact on economic shutdown and subsequent necessary housing relief. The second survey from January 2021 focused more closely on quantifying issues renters faced on a variety of topics including job loss and instability, some of which was related to the ongoing pandemic.

After the Tenant Safe Harbor Act (New York State’s eviction moratorium) ended, evictions began again with few further protections existing for tenants who cannot pay their rent, with the Ithaca Tenant’s Union protesting at the city courthouse during ongoing eviction hearings.

“One of the biggest takeaways from prior surveys has been that people who are having financial difficulty appear to be prioritizing paying their rent above all other household bills including things like utilities, debt or transportation costs,” said Liddy Bargar, director of housing services at HSC. “This is an especially compelling takeaway for me because those folks who prioritized paying their rent may end up being excluded from standard covid response financial assistance programs, which were heavily geared towards rental arrears.”

The newest survey has questions ranging from rental location, household composition and median area income to how secure individuals feel in their rentals. The survey also gives space for more detailed short-answer format responses.

Bargar also said that HSC doesn’t have one particular plan in mind for the data, but that it will be used to determine how to best assess needs and gauge how housing conditions can be improved in the future. All the data collected from the previous two surveys will be released together as a series “to examine how renters have been impacted throughout the length of the pandemic.”

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. She has covered a wide range of topics since joining the news organization in November 2021. She can be reached at zhessler@ithacavoice.com...