May 2003


From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Vito J. Lopez • Chair, Housing Committee
What the experts are saying...

"I am very concerned that if the rent protection laws are not renewed and strengthened I may be forced - by the landlord or because of an exorbitant rent hike - to leave the apartment I’ve lived in for 38 years. Rent increases…have been going through the roof. I would hate to see my home and neighborhood become unaffordable."

- Julie Shields, Great Neck tenant

"Renewing the laws is a start but it’s not enough. In the last several years, more than 100,000 rent regulated apartments have been stripped of rent protections because of vacancy decontrol. We must strengthen the rent protection laws by eliminating high-rent vacancy decontrol."

- Rob Rychlowski, President of the Long Beach Tenants Coalition

"Tenants are worried, scared and angry."

- Michael McKee, Associate Director of New York State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition

"Our members know all too well how difficult it is to make ends meet with the high cost of housing here in New York City, especially on a starting teacher’s salary. That’s why we urge state officials to guarantee tenants’ rights by renewing and expanding the state’s rent regulation system."

- Randi Weingarten, President of United Federation of Teachers

"The 237,000 health care workers of 1199 SEIU applaud Speaker Silver and the Democratic majority in the Assembly for, once again, leading the fight to address the affordable housing crisis facing working families in the New York City area. Tens of thousands of our members are tenants who rely on rent control and rent stabilization to protect them from skyrocketing rental prices and the very real fear that they might be priced out of their homes."

- Dennis Rivera, President of 1199 SEIU

"Without rent regulation, we would lose the talent that is vital to this [entertainment] industry and to the economic health of our city. Our members cannot afford any further weakening of rent regulation, and neither can our city."

- Bill Moriarty, President of Local 802, American Federation of Musicians

Governor’s lack of leadership means time is running out on affordable housing

Rent regulation laws are set to expire next month. If the governor lets them die, so too will the dream of finding a quality, affordable place to live for thousands of New Yorkers.

Rent regulation laws – which govern how quickly and by how much rents can be raised in a year – expire June 15, but thus far, the governor has failed to show any leadership, and instead is sitting by and playing out the clock. Instead of wasting time, he should be showing the kind of leadership renters in New York need and deserve – before it’s too late.

Rents go up, protections go away

Renters are already contending with a weak economy – which has driven tens of thousands out of work – and recently proposed rent hikes for New York City, which will amount to 5.5 percent for new one-year leases and 8.5 percent for new two-year leases. Those two factors alone would make it difficult to afford a home.

With renters facing such large hikes, rent protections have never been more important. If rent regulation laws expire, the situation could get a whole lot worse. In fact, they should be strengthened, offering more people the chance to find a decent place to live – and protection from high-rent vacancy decontrol.

The Assembly acted to protect renters...

The fight over affordable housing is so important that the Assembly took quick action in February, passing three bills that protect and expand the supply of affordable housing by:

  • Strengthening and extending rent regulation laws and ending high rent vacancy decontrol through which more than 100,000 apartments have been taken off the rent regulation rolls (A.2716-A);
  • Expanding the Loft Law to allow more people who have invested in their homes to stay in them (A.2717); and
  • Limiting the time landlords can collect rent surcharges for major capital improvements instead of allowing them to become permanent hikes (A.2718).

...Now it’s time for the Governor to show some leadership

Now is the time for the governor to stand up for the people of New York. But given his recent record – especially in refusing to negotiate a fair budget – no one knows if he will. Will he help protect New York’s supply of quality, affordable housing, or will he call for higher rents – as his budget called for higher property taxes in the state budget fight? Will he stand by as people are priced out of their homes, or will he finally act to preserve affordable housing?

Renters need to know that they’ll be able to afford their homes. Now is the time for the governor to show the leadership he was elected to provide.

New York State Assembly
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