Remember when we, and many others in NYC, held hands around Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village? This complex was chosen for the demonstration because of it being a stronghold and an ideal of affordable middle class housing, the largest in the nation. Did the politicians listen? What was the outcome?
New York Is Our Home: Affordable Rent Campaign
is the work of a comprehensive coalition including dozens of tenant, labor, and political organizations (click on "read more" below to see the full list).
The campaign will take advantage of a unique political opening to press tenant demands. We want to:
- Repeal Vacancy Decontrol
- Restore Home Rule Over Rent Laws
- Stop Unfair Rent Increases and Harassment
- Preserve Mitchell-Lama and Section 8 Housing
- Ensure State Funding for NYCHA Housing
- Limit Rental Payments for New Yorkers with HIV and AIDS
- Wednesday, May 23, 2007
- 5:00 PM
- Stuy-Town / Peter Cooper Village
Avenue B from 14th to 23rd Streets in Manhattan
Affordable Rent Campaign
Rent protections were undermined by the Pataki Administration through 12 years of bad legislation and regulation, jeopardizing the 1.1 million families who live in rent-regulated housing. In addition, thousands of affordable units in Mitchell-Lama, Section 8, and public housing buildings are being lost every year. The State’s Urstadt law makes the problem worse by taking control over rent regulation out of the hands of the elected representatives of the citizens these policies effect, and giving it instead to a body whose majority is not accountable to voters in the affected areas. It must be repealed.
A substantial portion of the housing now within the reach of moderate and middle-income families in New York City, and crucial affordable homes in the surrounding suburbs, are in serious jeopardy.
While the City of New York has recently made record-breaking commitments to create and preserve affordable housing, we cannot simply build our way out of the problem. Although the Mayor’s plan will create 94,000 new affordable units and preserve 71,000 existing units, nearly 1.5 million affordable units are at risk if the State does not act now.
What We Need to Do Now to Save Affordable Housing in New York!
Repeal “Vacancy Decontrol”
Vacancy decontrol rule introduced in the early 90’s is eliminating rent-regulated apartments at an ever-accelerating pace.
As a result of changes in the rent laws initiated in 1994, rent-stabilized apartments can be deregulated when they become vacant as long as the new rent can be pushed over $2,000. Vacancy decontrol has provided an incentive for landlords to do everything possible to raise rents, and to get tenants out of apartments, so that they can permanently escape from rent regulation. Vacancy increases and “major capital improvements” mean that even apartments with existing rents far below the $2,000 threshold are at serious risk. Over time, vacancy decontrol will lead to the total repeal of rent regulation.
The impact has been, and will continue to be, devastating. Studies show a loss of 300,000 units since 1994. The rate of losses is only accelerating with time. Over the next 10 years an ADDITIONAL 300,000 apartments in New York City – almost 1/3 of the total remaining rent-regulated stock – are likely to be decontrolled, and increasing numbers of the 100,000 rent regulated apartments in Nassau, Westchester, and Rockland are also at risk.
Vacancy decontrol needs to be repealed to stop the hemorrhage of irreplaceable affordable housing in New York. Statutory change is also needed to prevent landlords from deregulating units by illegally registering them as decontrolled.
Roll Back the Pataki Anti-Tenant Program: Restore Fairness to the Administration of rent regulations.
A series of DHCR regulations and practices implemented during the Pataki Administration overwhelmingly favor landlords over tenants, and allow illegitimate rent increases and evictions.Governor Spitzer can and must reverse these changes.
Important steps that must be taken to restore fairness and protect tenants include:
- Slow the loss of units: End the practice of granting landlords across the board “Unique or Peculiar” permission to raise rents to landlords in Mitchell-Lama buildings leaving the program; restrict demolition evictions to buildings that will be razed; tighten NYC owner-use eviction rules; require the DHCR to enforce a strict registration system.
- Prevent displacing rent increases: repeal the 2003 preferential rent rule that allows big hikes in the rents in poor and gentrifying communities; tighten the rules for rent increase applications for major capitol improvements (MCI’s) and for individual apartment increases and prevent fraud; shift the burden of proving deregulation onto landlords; limit rent increases on vacancy; end the practice of allowing permanent increases for improvements.
- Protect tenants: protect tenants from harassment which could force them out of their apartments; make procedures efficient, transparent, and accessible to tenants; remove the right to evict tenants and subtenants from regulated apartments for splitting the rent less than exactly equally; and allow the addition of non-traditional family members to the lease.
Retain the affordability of ALL Mitchell-Lama and Section 8 developments when their initial contracts expire.
Tens of thousands of affordable Mitchell-Lama apartments have already been lost. There are more than 40,000 Mitchell-Lama rental apartments and some 47,000 homes in Section 8 properties that need to be protected. A comprehensive plan to respond to this crisis must include protections for tenants, incentives to preserve Mitchell-Lama, and enforcement of the highest standards for Mitchell- Lama landlords.
- Extend rent regulations to all developments: Today, Mitchell-Lama and Section 8 projects built before 1974 are permanently covered by rent regulation when their contracts expire, but still face enormous rent increases through a loophole in the law that allows a landlord to argue that “unique or peculiar circumstances” exempt them from the rent laws. Tenants in developments built after 1973 are NOT COVERED by rent regulations if they opt out of these programs. Rent regulations must be extended to ALL Mitchell Lama and Section 8 buildings when their contracts expire, regardless of when they were built … along the lines of legislation proposed by Mayor Bloomberg, and all must be safeguarded from “unique or peculiar” increases that could raise their rents to market rate.
- Declare a moratorium on buyouts: New York State should declare a moratorium on all Mitchell Lama buyouts. This moratorium should last until such time as New York State has developed its preservation agenda and until such time as DHCR has issued a report which explains how the agency will enforce the State’s preservation plan and how it will avoid its past mistakes and missteps.
- Provide a right of first refusal: The State should enact legislation that gives tenants, and tenant selected qualified buyers, a right of first refusal to purchase these buildings, at prices set by an appraisal board.
- Enforce existing provisions: DHCR should prohibit landlords who have violated the terms of any of their obligations from benefiting from buyouts.
- Offer incentives for preservation: DHCR/HFA should establish better refinancing tools and enhancements for Mitchell-Lama landlords who are willing to remain in the subsidy programs.
Preserve State-Built Public Housing.
From 1958 to 1974, New York State constructed and paid for operated costs for public housing units statewide. In 1998, Governor Pataki eliminated the funding desperately needed to maintain this vital and aging housing stock. $70 million per year is needed to support the 20,000 state units that are left (many have been sold off because of the lack of operating subsidies).
Further, to make up for the deficit left by the State’s divestment, NYCHA has proposed taking 8400 Section 8 vouchers to use in public housing. On August 16, 2006, Eliot Spitzer pledged that if he were governor, he would support State public housing and restore State operating subsidies. Currently, the governor's budget does not include this critical funding.
Limit Rental Payments for New Yorkers living with AIDS to 30% of Income
There are more than 10,000 poor New Yorkers receiving rental assistance throughout NY State who are being forced to contribute all of their income except for $330 per month towards their rent. That means that they are being forced to survive on just $11 per day.
All other rental assistance programs cap the amount that tenants have to contribute towards their rent to just 30% of their income.
State legislation is needed to end the discrimination against New Yorkers living with AIDS. Most recently, the Spitzer administration reversed this policy for tenants living in supportive housing, but the policy needs to be changed for 10,000+ tenants living with AIDS in all other types of housing.
Pass S2890 and A5473, legislation that will cap the amount that low-income people living with AIDS receiving rental assistance to only 30% of their income.
For more information please contact Tenants & Neighbors at 212-608-4320 x 404, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or check the website: www.NewYorkIsOurHome.com