When I was younger there was a computer game called Sim City where you were the mayor of a city. It allowed you to raise taxes and sometimes this resulted in an angry mob in the virtual city protesting city hall.  Unlike Sim City New York City’s mayor Deblasio does not have absolute power. In the earlier part of the pandemic as New York went on “pause” many New Yorkers began to worry about how they will be able to pay their rent. Some called for rent strikes and others pleaded for rents to be canceled. Much like the virtual mob of Sim City protesters took to city hall.

Then the George Floyd death took the spotlight and many called on the mayor to defund the New York City Police Department. There seems to be very little understanding of what it takes to change or enact laws in the city of New York. Although mayor DeBlasio made a verbal decree that he was going to transfer monies from the NYPD budget, he doesn’t have the sole power to do so. What the angry mobs fail to realize is that the New York City Council is responsible for the passing of laws. The mayor’s decision to reallocate funds did not go as planned and was met with residence by the city council. Although the mayor has veto power he still has to go through the city council to introduce or modify existing laws.

Activist and native New Yorker Nicole K. created a change.org petition to gather signatures for the state and city council to do something about the impact of the pandemic on people’s ability to pay rent and secure housing. Landlords have been unwilling to budge on rental requirements and rents despite an increasing inventory of empty apartments and an increasing number of people leaving the city. A lot of single New Yorkers live with roommates and found themselves stuck in apartments they cannot afford on their own after their roommates fled the city. Many suggested she just move when Nicole K. voiced the problem she was in. What many failed to realize is that landlords became stricter during the pandemic instead of flexible. Many still requiring prospective tenants to be earning forty times the rent to qualify for an apartment. Very few will be able to qualify with half the city unemployed. To complicate matters the New York City council passed a law making it illegal for landlords to accept more than one month’s security. One person who signed Nicole K.’s petition called this “misguided” as it did nothing for those who had a hard time qualifying for apartments. An individual with poor credit or unemployed is no longer able to use savings to pay upfront for an apartment. Many New Yorkers are stuck in apartments they can no longer afford and are unable to move because of the forty times rent and no extra security deposit law.

I’m not sure is it hurts or benefits the DeBlasio administration to not clarify the legislative process of the city of New York. Protesters and advocates need to direct their anger at the ones who have the most power to change the laws that affect the lives of New Yorkers, the New York City Council. If asked most New Yorkers are unaware which city council member is responsible for their district. Nicole K.’s petition asks for New Yorkers to contact their city council member to help with this predicament that the pandemic has put them in. Don’t blame it on Deblasio; blame it on the city council.