Yorkville and Lenox Hill were well-represented at the Real Rent Reform Coalition's trip up to Albany to meet with State Senators about the importance of tenant protections.
I led a group of Upper East Side tenants and affordable housing activists as part of an effort organized by the Metropolitan Council on Housing and other advocates for affordability to tell their personal stories and advocate on behalf of important legislation. Specifically, we were asking that they support three bills:
- S3482: a bill to repeal (and retroactively restore) the vacancy decontrol provisions that allow landlords to strip apartments from rent regulation when tenants leave. This practice creates a strong incentive for landlords to harass and evict their long-time tenants and permanently depletes the neighborhood's stock of stabilized rental homes.
- S6527: a bill to ensure that tenants who are offered preferential "teaser" rents in rent stabilized housing retain the same protections that other rent stabilized tenants have for the full time they live in the apartment.
- S1593: a bill to end the 20% "bonus" rent increase that landlords can claim when a tenant leaves. This creates another strong financial incentive for landlords to evict tenants.
Not surprisingly, all three of these bills are co-sponsored by Sen. Liz Krueger.
Many in our group were seniors on fixed incomes who have lived on the Upper East Side for decades and endured harassment and threats of eviction from landlords hoping to fill their apartments with higher-income tenants. We made our case, first to a Republican Senator from a wealthy district in Suffolk County (he didn't seem too keen on our position, but was very polite) and a Democrat from Queens (staunchly in favor).
To be honest, I don't have a lot of confidence these bills will move forward in the current legislative session. But we demonstrated the importance of the issue to our elected representatives. And it just goes to show how much is at stake in the coming midterm elections, and why I've been organizing East Siders and Roosevelt Islanders to make calls and volunteer in competitive districts around the City.