Squadron Urges Extension and Strengthening of Rent Regulations, End of Vacancy Decontrol

Daniel L. Squadron

March 23, 2011

Brooklyn Hieghts Blog

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The Emergency Tenant Protection Act, the state statute under which residential rent regulation in New York City is authorized, expires on June 15. Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget amendments released earlier this month do not provide for its renewal. This is a matter of concern for many Brooklyn Heights residents who rent instead of own, including tenants in the Alfred T. White Riverside Apartments on Columbia Place between Joralemon and State streets. In response, State Senator Daniel Squadron has written a letter to the Governor urging his support for extension of ETPA, as well as measures to strengthen tenant protection, including the elimination of vacancy decontrol. His letter was signed by 23 other state senators, and by 63 members of the State Assembly, including Assembly Member Joan Millman. The full text of the letter follows the jump.

Dear Governor Cuomo:

On June 15, 2011, the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) expires. If the State does not act, millions of working and middle class New Yorkers will be at immediate risk of losing their homes. Even if the ETPA is renewed in its current form, the loss of rent-regulated units through vacancy decontrol and the reduction in the number of affordable units in Mitchell-Lama and project-based Section 8 developments will continue unabated. The abuse of the Individual Apartment Improvement (IAI), Major Capital Improvement (MCI), “vacancy bonus” and preferential rent systems, which enable landlords to levy illegitimate rent increases, will persist. If current laws are not extended and strengthened, New York City and surrounding counties will become even more economically stratified and long-time tenants will be priced out of their own neighborhoods. The younger generations of people who have historically given New York City’s five boroughs their dynamism, creativity and continuous sense of reinvention will not be able to afford to move here. The City will become a place for the very wealthy and the very poor and no longer within the grasp of those of moderate means.

While we were disappointed that the 30-day Executive Budget amendments released on March 3 did not include language extending and strengthening the ETPA, we believe that with your leadership it is still possible to accomplish this objective through the budget process. The repeal of vacancy decontrol and other reforms offered in Assembly and Senate bills A. 2674-A / S. 2783-A are essential to safeguard our stock of affordable housing. These reforms will allow the residents of rent-stabilized apartments, whose median household income is $36,000 per year, to remain in the city, and will preserve the diversity of this city—where more than half of all rent stabilized tenants are members of communities of color. We ask that you act boldly on tenants’ behalf by requiring these reforms to be a part of any budget agreement. In a difficult economic time, this issue has no fiscal implications for the State. Under your leadership, the solutions that have eluded tenants in previous years are within reach.

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