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Story of a gym in Hartsdale that signed a lease before the pandemic, spent significant dollars building a beautiful gym but can't open due to pandemic. NYS just announced a tenant rental assistance program. Shouldn't commercial businesses also get grants?
Should NYS offer rental assistance to gyms and businesses not allowed to open up because of COVID concerns? NYS is providing rental assistance to some tenants with COVID related problems. THE STORY BELOW OF A GYM THAT SIGNED A LEASE BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, SPENT SIGNIFICANT DOLLARS CONSTRUCTING THE GYM AND NOW CAN’T OPEN... COVID 19 has impacted many businesses and individuals. People have lost jobs. Businesses are going under. This is the story of a Hartsdale business to be that has suffered more than most --they signed a lease to open up a gym on E Hartsdale Ave before the pandemic. Spent significant dollars building a beautiful new gym, were looking forward to phase 4 when they thought they could open. And, now have been told that they can’t open even though they are ready to accept customers. My question: Should the federal or state governments provide additional financial help to businesses like Hydrogen Fitness that are still not allowed to open because of COVID-19? NYS won’t allow gyms, yoga and pilates studios to open. Last week NYS announced an emergency rental assistance program that will help keep low income renters who are facing COVID 19 hardships. Why can’t the same program be offered to commercial tenants who can’t open up? If they are continuing to pay rent and can’t get customers, it’s only a matter of time before they shut down. If NYS would offer rental assistance until they are allowed to open up, these businesses may survive. This is the story of Hydrogen Fitness. PAUL FEINER Greenburgh Town Supervisor IN THE WORDS OF HYDROGEN FITNESS... We set out to deliver a product that Hartsdale and the surrounding areas of Scarsdale, New Rochelle, White Plains and Eastchester would be proud of. Our goal was to deliver top of the line equipment and experience for a price that gym goers had already been paying for lesser offerings. We were ready to serve the community, then COVID-19 infection rates started to soar in New York. Like everyone else, we wanted to keep everyone as safe as possible and allow our State Government to get the virus transmission rates down. A delayed opening was our only option, but we looked forward to phase 4; the last phase and the one when gyms were supposed to be allowed to open! Immediately, we looked for best practices among many industries and at what gyms in Asia and Europe had done to open up safely. We took the best of everything we could find and had everything installed and ready to go by June 1. We wanted to keep our staff and members safe and make them feel comfortable coming as well. Some of those measures included installing transmission proof screens between cardio machines, spacing our equipment out 6 feet, dividing our classroom into 6 foot sections, additional sanitizing stations throughout the facility and placing 7 HEPA hospital grade air filter units (that effectively kill 99.7% of all viruses and germs, including COVID -19) around the facility, etc. July soon came and we were eagerly anticipating opening, so we began to bring in the staff for training, that we had selected months prior. The Governor then dealt our industry a huge setback by announcing that gyms could not open with the start of phase 4 and that he did not have a date set when the industry would be allowed to open. How does a business plan when there are no dates to plan by? It’s impossible, as well as frustrating, expensive and had decreased the morale of our employees. Lobbyist groups and lawsuits have all been launched, yet not a single peep has been heard from Albany. With transmission rates extremely low, our neighbor Connecticut having opened gyms June 23rd (with no uptick in deaths, hospitalizations or death rate) and the State running at a huge budget deficit, how are gyms not being reopened? Gyms can not only be extremely clean and sanitary, but by their very nature are contract tracers; they know who was there and at what time. So if there is ever a case tied to a facility they can easily notify any members or staff who may have been exposed. A Walmart or Target sees hundreds, if not thousands, of people per day and have no clue who most of them are. Hundreds of hands touch countless items on the shelves that are never sanitized ever, their HVAC systems do not have HEPA filters and nobody is spacing people 6 feet apart. Yes, these businesses are deemed essential and have never been closed since the onset of the pandemic. Fitness is medicine and ESSENTIAL! By all accounts the healthier and more fit a person is the less likely COVID-19 is to seriously affect them and put them in a hospital or ICU. Why would the government want to curtail the ability for its citizens to maintain a healthy lifestyle? The average person has put on many pounds during the quarantine and they need a safe place to get back into shape and stay healthy, which will in turn keep our infection and hospitalization rates down. Nobody has really addressed the mental state & stress of people under quarantine, but gyms also provide a mental oasis for many members; a place to vent their stress and keep their mind healthy and on point. While we are not allowed to be open as a gym, we have been giving tours and signing people up for memberships and there seems to be a lot of interest. Most people realize they need to get back in shape to stay healthy and know we will take the best possible care of them with all of the measures we have put in place. We strive to work hard and keep our promise to this community; Hydrogen Fitness will deliver an experience that it deserves. INFO ON EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS FOR LOW INCOME FAMILIES WHO LOST INCOME DUE TO COVID Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an emergency rental assistance program that will help keep low-income families throughout New York in their homes. The program, which is designed to reach those individuals and families with the greatest need, will provide direct aid for tenants who lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which is part of the CARES Act. The program is administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal.. "Since day one we made it clear that no New Yorkers should be thrown on the streets because of hardships caused by this pandemic," Governor Cuomo said. "It’s critically important that people are able to stay safely in their homes as we progress through our data-driven, phased reopening, and the COVID Rent Relief Program reinforces that commitment with direct assistance to those in the greatest need." Under the new program, eligible households will benefit from a one-time rental subsidy paid directly to landlords and housing providers. Tenants are not required to repay this assistance. To qualify for the program, applicants must meet all of the eligibility requirements: Must be a renter with a primary residence in New York State. Before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, household income (including unemployment benefits) must be below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, adjusted for household size. Applicants can find the Area Median Income for their county, based on household size, on HCR’s website here. Before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, the household must have been "rent burdened," which is defined as paying more than 30 percent of gross monthly income towards rent. Applicants must have lost income during any period between April 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020. The application period will be open for two weeks. Residents can apply any time during the two-week period. HCR will prioritize households with greatest economic and social need, accounting for income, rent burden, percent of income lost and risk of homelessness. The rental assistance payment will cover the difference between the household’s rent burden on March 1, 2020 and the increase in rent burden during the period the household is applying for assistance. Households can apply for up to four months in rental assistance for the months of April through July. The program is open to households that rent apartments, single-family homes, manufactured homes and manufactured home lots. Households with at least one household member with U.S. Citizenship or eligible immigration status are qualified to receive the subsidy. Tenants currently receiving a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher for housing costs or who reside in public housing are not eligible for RRP assistance. The COVID Rent Relief Program builds upon Governor Cuomo’s efforts to protect New York’s renters during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes a statewide moratorium on COVID-related residential or commercial evictions; banning late payments or fees for missed rent payments during the eviction moratorium; and allowing renters facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 to use their security deposit as payment and repay their security deposit over time.