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Today, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) and other members of the New York City delegation sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza pressing the agencies to issue guidance clarifying the eligibility of housing cooperatives for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

“In New York City alone, there are nearly 100,000 cooperative housing units, providing affordable, middle-class housing to thousands of New York City, Long Island, and Westchester residents,” wrote the lawmakers. “Lost or deferred cooperatives fees from its member-owners, coupled with increases in utilities due to the stay at home orders, have made it increasingly difficult for these cooperatives to maintain their employees.”

Housing co-ops rely on a steady stream of revenue to pay maintenance and building staff, conduct repairs and maintain facilities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, financial hardship has been compounded by confusion surrounding whether housing co-ops are eligible to apply for PPP loans, which are forgivable if a borrower meets certain criteria. Furthermore, the agencies charged with implementing the program have issued conflicting guidance over the eligibility of housing cooperatives for PPP loans. In the letter, lawmakers seek clarity and press the Trump Administration to clearly state that housing cooperatives are eligible for PPP loans.

The Heroes Act, passed in the House on May 15th, explicitly includes provisions to extend PPP eligibility to housing co-ops. 

“Housing co-ops are part of the fabric of New York and deserve to be included in COVID-19 relief programs,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “The administration must issue clear guidance on housing co-ops’ eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program. PPP support is critical for many housing co-ops to weather this crisis and maintain their buildings and employees – as member-owners struggle to pay fees. I will continue to prioritize and fight for expanding PPP eligibility to cover housing co-ops, including pushing for the HEROES Act provision I worked on with Congresswoman Velázquez to expand eligibility if the SBA doesn’t act now.”

“Cooperatives provide an important source of affordable housing, especially in expensive markets like New York City,” Velázquez said. “Extending PPP eligibility to them during this crisis will ensure they remain viable and continue contributing to New York’s affordable housing stock.”

“Co-ops are an integral part of our communities in Queens and New York City, serving as homes for many hardworking middle-class New Yorkers,” said Congresswoman Meng. “Last month, I urged Secretary Mnuchin and Administrator Carranza to make them eligible for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, and today, I renew my call in this latest effort to secure relief. Like many other entities, co-ops are being impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, and Secretary Mnuchin and Administrator Carranza must act to ensure their future stability.”

“My district has a large number of co-ops and they deserve to be treated fairly under the law,” Rep. Engel said. “The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economy Security Act (CARES) Act has provided critical assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program to small businesses, but so far housing cooperatives have not received similar federal assistance. The cooperatives themselves – which have employees and operating expenses just like any small business – should be eligible for the same relief made available to other small businesses, including through PPP assistance and loans administered by the Small Business Administration. I wrote to House leadership earlier this month to advocate on behalf of co-ops and I’m pleased to co-lead this letter with Rep. Velazquez, Senator Schumer, and Rep. Meng, with the support of the New York Delegation, calling on the Trump Administration to provide clarifying guidance on this pressing issue.”

“Housing cooperatives are small non-profits that provide essential services for their residents and are suffering similar challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. They should be eligible to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program, just as other types of cooperatives are. This bill seeks to remedy this flaw by directing the Small Business Administration to issue guidance clarifying their eligibility, as Congress intended, so they can fully participate in the program going forward and prevent staff layoffs,” said Congressman José E. Serrano.

“Literally tens of thousands of New Yorkers live in housing cooperatives and there is no reason for these vital organizations to be excluded from PPP; the Administration has the ability to make this clear right now, even as we await the statutory changes included in the just-passed Heroes Act,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

“Many New Yorkers are facing a housing crisis. It’s imperative that the administration clarify immediately if co-ops are able to apply for PPP funds, and began immediately issuing relief, if so,” said Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The letter is also signed by: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; and Reps. Thomas R. Suozzi; Jerrold Nadler; Gregory W. Meeks; Adriano Espaillat; Kathleen M. Rice; Yvette Clarke; and Hakeem Jeffries.

A PDF of the letter is available here.