Manhattan Senators' Letter to Rent Guideline Board Chair on Lack of Public Hearings

Dear Chair Davidson:

As State Senators from Manhattan, we echo the disappointment of our City Council colleagues that the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) will not be holding any Public Hearings in our borough. As of today there are only four Public Hearings scheduled —in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and online. This denies Manhattan tenants the opportunity to engage the Rent Guidelines Board in person and provide testimony on consequential rent-increases prior to the Final Vote. Given the cost-of-living crisis confronting our constituents, it’s especially important now to elevate the voices of Manhattan tenants.

Almost half of Manhattan’s rental units are rent-regulated, the largest share of any borough behind the Bronx. In 2021, approximately a third of rent-stabilized apartments had one or more older adults—close to double the number for private, unregulated apartments. Accordingly, the number of rent-stabilized tenants in Manhattan makes the borough ideal for an in-person hearing. At the same time, the demographics of rent-stabilized tenants make them uniquely unable to participate in a virtual hearing. It is a truism of the past few years that virtual hearings are exclusionary of older and poorer stakeholders—exactly those marginalized voices we would wish to elevate in this process.

In 2023, tenants are facing the largest proposed rent-hikes in almost a decade. More than a third of rent-stabilized tenants are already categorized as “severely rent-burdened” under federal guidelines, meaning they pay over 50% of their income on rent. While the median rent in Manhattan has surpassed $4,100, the median income for rent-stabilized tenants has stagnated at $47,000. As a result, Manhattan renters are some of the most vulnerable to soaring housing costs. Given the dire circumstances tenants face, public hearings provide an essential opportunity to add the color and depth of experience to the sterility of RGB statistics. When making decisions impacting the livelihood of over a million New Yorkers, we must ensure the process maximizes inclusion. For these reasons, it is critical that Manhattan tenants have access to an in-person Public Hearing before the RGB prior to the Final Vote.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Brad Hoylman-Sigal, NYS Senate 47th District
Cordell Cleare, NYS Senate 30th District
Liz Krueger, NYS Senate 28th District
José M. Serrano, NYS Senate 29th District
Robert Jackson, NYS Senate 31st District
Kristen Gonzalez, NYS Senate 59th District
Brian Kavanagh, NYS Senate 27th District