Serrano Says No Time to Waste on Housing

José M. Serrano

April 22, 2009

Senator Serrano calls for the repeal of vacancy decontrol at a housing rally on the West Side of Manhattan

With less than three months before the end of legislative session, Senator Serrano called on his colleagues to repeal vacancy decontrol and keep New York affordable for working families.

"We stand here tonight fighting for balance: for a city where the housing stock accurately reflects the people who live here, the people who work hard and raise families," said the Senator.

Under vacancy decontrol, rent-regulated apartments can be privatized when rent charges reach $2,000 per month. 

"The unregulated market claims 50 more units each day. We had a big rally back in December and by my count we’ve lost 6,000 units just between now and then. It’s time we stop the madness and repeal vacancy decontrol," said the Senator.

"I want to stress the need for unity. This is not just a Manhattan issue. I’m a lifelong resident of the Bronx, and we have apartments hitting the $2,000 ceiling all the time. And it will continue to get worse."

Current law, which allows for 20% increases when units go vacant, as well as significant rent hikes based on hard-to-track renovation costs, provides incentive for harassment of tenants. In recent years, private equity firms have bought up large swaths of affordable housing in order to exploit weak and badly enforced state law.

Serrano was joined at the rally, held in the Church for All Nations on West 57th Street, by fellows Senators Eric Schneiderman, Liz Krueger, and Bill Perkins.

The event was organized by the following groups: ACORN; Asian Americans for Equality; CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities; Community Voices Heard; Cooper Square Committee; East Side Housing Coalition; Goddard Riverside; Good Old Lower East Side; Housing Conservation Coordinators; Housing Here & Now; Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness & Housing; London Terrace Tenants Association; Metropolitan Council on Housing; New York Immigration Coalition; Tenants & Neighbors; Tenants Political Action Committee; West Side Neighborhood Alliance; West Side SRO Law Project.