New York City passes rent freeze for stabilized apartments

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Washington, DC (CNN)A rent freeze for rent-stabilized apartments was passed by New York City's Rent Guidelines Board on Wednesday, a move aimed at offering relief to millions worried about evictions amid mass unemployment.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the freeze will apply to around a million rent stabilized apartments across the city, covering more than 2 million renters.

"Renters have never faced hardship like this. They desperately need relief and that's why we fought for this rent freeze," de Blasio said.

Under the new guidelines, rents on one-year leases and the first year of two-year leases will now be frozen. Landlords will be able to increase rent by 1% in the second year of a two-year lease.

The new rent guidelines will go into effect October 1, 2020 and last through September 30, 2021, according to the board.

Renters across the country have been calling for rent relief as the country entered a recession due to stay-at-home orders aimed at stemming the coronavirus pandemic.

While many states and cities implemented eviction moratoriums, renters have remained on the hook for monthly payments.

The New York state legislature passed an emergency relief act in late May creating a $100 million rental assistance fund to help tenants pay back rent from April 1 to July 1. That came as a proposal by New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris to cancel rent altogether has stalled in the state legislature.

Other cities and states that have also been funneling millions toward emergency rent relief programs, including Illinois, Iowa and Washington, DC. The programs have gone into effect as eviction moratoriums meant to keep people in their homes have started to lift.

"It's not everything I would have liked but it's a good start," Gianaris told CNN in May. "At the end of the day, my goal is to keep people in their homes and stave off a massive housing catastrophe which we're headed towards."

CNN's Sheena Jones contributed to this story.