At a press conference today on the steps of City Hall, City Councilmember Robert Cornegy today spoke out on the need for protections for small businesses facing harassment by their landlords.
"It's time to shine some light on the real estate struggles of NYC's small business tenants," he said.
Similar to complaints by many of the residents in his district, which includes Bed-Stuy and a part of Crown Heights, Cornegy pointed out that some business owners believe that landlords are actually creating conditions to pressure them to give up the spaces they've invested in even when they still have a lease.
According to a report by the City's Department of Small Business Services, small businesses account for more than 98 percent of all businesses in New York City and employ more than half of New York City's private sector work force.
Currently, both Councilmembers Cornegy and Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens have introduced two resolutions-- 541 and 581-- that call on the State to provide tax credits to commercial and small business landlords who retain commercial tenants.
Cornegy has also asked for a bill to be drafted that would extend some of the anti-harassment protections residential tenants rely on to commercial tenants.
"I'm here to tell these small business owners, pursuing their dreams in corner stores and on commercial strips across the boroughs, 'You are not alone,'" said Cornegy. "I'm a preacher's kid, and one thing I always heard in church was 'What's done in the darkness will be brought to the light.'"
The Council Member encouraged small business owners experiencing instances of harassment to reach out to his office, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-919-0740.