No More Waiting On Rent Reform Op-Ed

| 02 Jun 2015 | 11:19

Two critical votes are coming to a head in Albany in the next three weeks: both the Rent Stabilization Law and the 421a tax abatement law program will expire on June 15th. As supporters of neighborhood stabilization and affordable housing, we must make our voices heard. Under the existing law, Manhattan lost over 100,000 stabilized apartments in the last 10 years. That is because the current Rent Stabilization law provisions lead to unconscionable and unaffordable increases, forcing tenants out and resulting in deregulation of thousands of apartments.

Unfortunately, Governor Cuomo’s public position is that the laws should simply be renewed as they are. But this is not what our neighborhoods need.

Call Cuomo to let him know that the only way to stop the loss of affordable housing -- to protect middle class tenants in New York City -- and to stabilize neighborhoods, is to renew and reform the Rent Stabilization Law. Let Cuomo know that simply renewing the Rent Stabilization Law will not stop skyrocketing rents and the loss of stabilized apartments. The law must not only be renewed, but reformed. We must repeal vacancy deregulation that gives landlords the incentive to force low- and moderate-income families from their homes. We must reform the MCI provisions that lead to accelerated rent increases.

The 421a Law must be reformed if it is renewed. The law was passed in the early ‘70s to incentivize the creation of housing (any housing) in the terrible economic conditions of that time. Since then, the city lost billions in tax revenue in exchange for a small number of “affordable” apartments. We must reform this law to make sure that we prevent its use to subsidize creation of more luxury development. Call Cuomo’s office (518-474-8390), let him know where you live (or, the zip code you are calling from), and let him know the impact of doing nothing on your ability to stay in your home.

Compromises will have to happen. The mayor and the Assembly have differing proposals; and the Senate is likely to weigh in soon. The proposals have one important thing in common: they set the stage for a meaningful dialogue. Call Cuomo and ask him to engage in the dialogue to help strengthen rent regulation protections (preserving affordable housing) and strengthen the 421a laws (building meaningfully more affordable housing).

Governor Cuomo needs to hear from the over 2.5 million rent-regulated tenants that a mere extension of rent laws is a step backward. He needs to hear from the 8.4 million residents of New York City that our taxpayer dollars should not subsidize luxury apartments.

Simply extending the current laws is a cop-out. Call the Governor now. (518) 474-8390

Helen Rosenthal represents the Upper West Side on the New York City Council