After much deliberation, Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaderscame to a tentative agreement on rent control – but the deal onlyachieved part of what some southwestern Brooklyn tenants werehoping for.
Through this plan, rent laws will be renewed for four years, butvacancy decontrol (or destabilization) – a system that preservesrent controls and tenant protections for occupied apartments, butremoves them once the tenant moves out – will be preserved.However, the thresholds at which landlords can destabilizeapartments were raised to $2,500 from $2,000 in monthly rent, andto $200,000 from $175,000 in annual household income.
Despite Cuomo’s decision to renew regulations for the 2.5million apartment residents who could otherwise face uncapped rentincreases, many believe that maintaining vacancy decontrol – whichhas already depleted the city’s affordable apartment stock by300,000 since the 1990s – will gradually weaken these rent laws,even with the threshold increase.
Overall, I am very disappointed in the agreement, said SaraSuman, the community project director of Catholic Charities forBrooklyn West. Especially as far as the appeal of vacancydestabilization, we really hoped that would happen this year. Weknew it was going to be a struggle. [The legislators] made us feelthey were with us, but they really weren’t.
For Thomas Murata, a Bay Ridge resident and tenant, eliminatingvacancy decontrol, as well as maintaining tenant protection, whichprevents residents from being arbitrarily ousted from their homes,are the central issues.
It’s not an issue of what the rents are – the main thing istenant protection, Murata said. If a person is under tenantprotection, if they [follow the] rules and do the right thing, theyhave recourse, but if they don’t, they’re out.
Not everyone was disappointed, though. Although Walter Mosley,the 57th Assembly District leader, expressed that we have somework to do for Mitchell Lama and Section 8 housing, he said he wasglad that the rent laws were renewed.
I commend the assembly for remaining steadfast in theiropposition [to ending rent control], and I commend Governor Cuomofor maintaining his campaign promise, Mosley said.
Terri Febles, a Bay Ridge resident who lives in arent-stabilized apartment, explained that she was fortunate to havemoved into her apartment years ago when the rent was lower, as sheand her family would never be able to pay what the market value istoday. Like Mosley, she expressed a degree of relief at the rentcontrol renewal.
If those controls went away, I don’t know what we could do,Febles said. I would probably have to move out of New York. I’mdefinitely happy to hear that they have passed some kind of rentlaw and it makes for affordable housing for many of us.
But Murata believes that the issue of rent affordability islinked to the well-being of New York City as a whole, and someimprovements still need to be made.
Affordable housing is a key part of making any city work,Murata said. When [the rent laws] are renewed again four yearsfrom now, hopefully we’ll have better results.