Rent Regulations: Affordable Housing Advocates Respond

As lawmakers in Albany wrangle over the final details of new legislation to replace the rent regulations that expired June 15, politicians and community leaders are weighing in on the pros and cons.

Yesterday, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called the agreement “a huge relief for tenants.”

“Working with Gov. Cuomo, we have saved the rent laws and expanded their protections for the first time in nearly two decades,” Silver said in prepared statement. “This is an important victory in our ongoing effort to support working families and ease the affordable housing crisis.”

We also asked local affordable housing advocates for their take on the situation, and compiled their responses.

Rent Regs Near Deal, Gay Marriage Pending, Brooklyn Bridge Noise

  • A deal on rent regulations is expected to be finalized in Albany today, and both landlords and tenants are finding reasons to criticize it. (NYT, NY Daily News)
  • Silver says there’s some movement on language for gay marriage bill, but no deal yet. (TalkingPointsMemo)
  • What’s that noise on the Brooklyn Bridge late at night? The city’s own jackhammers, and they’re too loud. (DNAinfo)
  • The Open Road Park in the East Village is closed; here’s why. (EV Grieve)
  • This isn’t really news, but it’s really cool: A website that documents the color of the NYC sky at any given moment. (NY Mag)

Climbers on the Billyburg Bridge, Skate Park, Child Porn Arrests, Rent Law, Gay Marriage

  • Two young men were arrested for scaling the Williamsburg Bridge yesterday; they told police they wanted to “take better pictures” (Gothamist, CBS)
  • A beat-up skate park under the Manhattan Bridge gets a grant for a facelift (DNAinfo)
  • An LES childrens’ shoe salesman and an East Village resident were among the 26 men collared for child pornography in a major bust this week. (NY Daily News)
  • NYC’s rent control law expired at midnight, as talks broke down in the state Senate. Stay tuned for the next round; there are five more days until the end of the session (Gotham Gazette, NY Daily News, AP/WSJ)
  • Gay marriage vote nears (NYT)


Silver Announces Details of Rent Protection Bill

From State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office:

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Housing Committee Chair Vito Lopez announced the expected passage of legislation today that will extend and strengthen New York City’s rent regulation laws. The measure (A.2674A/Lopez) includes provisions that will protect millions of working New Yorkers, extend rent-stabilization laws set to expire June 15, and close loopholes that allow for the loss of thousands of affordable apartments every year.

Lawmakers Rally in Support of Protecting Rent Regulated Apartments

Lawmakers rallied at City Hall yesterday in support of extending and expanding New York’s rent protection laws. Among those participating: State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh (see photo), who represents portions of the Lower East Side. The current rent law expires in June. There’s been talk in Albany that the renewal could be tied to property tax relief. Governor Andrew Cuomo has been vague about where he stands on strengthening protections for New York City’s rent stabilized and rent controlled apartments.

According to some estimates, more than 10,000 Lower East Side apartments have been deregulated in the past decade.

Housing Group Identifies Buildings Being “Intentionally Neglected”

128 Hester Street.

In Albany, the annual battle over New York’s byzantine rent laws is starting to heat up. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver might refuse to extend a tax break benefiting real estate developers unless Republicans agree to strengthen rent control legislation.

Even in the past two years (when Democrats had control of the Senate), rent reform went nowhere. Now that the GOP has retaken the chamber, prospects look bleak.  But many housing advocates are undeterred.  A prominent Chinatown organization, Asian Americans for Equality, has just released a report designed to influence the ongoing debate.

The report, “Demolition through Intentional Neglect: a tactic of predatory landlords to demolish rent-regulated Housing,” analyzed building violations throughout the city. It found that 99 buildings citywide  are “structurally compromised.” Fourteen of those buildings are in Lower Manhattan.

Wednesday News Links

The Albany coup's big winner is, perhaps,  New York's real estate industry. The New York Times notes the "most significant expansion of rent regulation and tenant rights in a quarter-century" is now DOA.

Some analysts are warning the city's election-year budget is unrealistically rosy. And as the Times warns  on the editorial page:

Once the votes are counted in November… the city will have to
start facing a $5 billion deficit for the fiscal year beginning in 2010
— a problem it will have to confront without much surplus or stimulus
funds as extra padding.

The dailies like to take shots at Shelly Silver, so it's worth acnowledging when they're complimentary of the speaker. The Daily News points out that the Assembly is working as a well oiled machine in contrast to the romper room that is the New York State Senate.

As the Daily News reported yesterday, police are having to confront an outbreak of gang violence that started over the weekend when a suspected drug dealer was killed. Police sources told the paper the stabbings (one fatal) of two men on 26th Street Monday were meant to avenge the killing. Last night, during a community meeting, police acknowledged the men have ties to housing projects in the East Village and Lower East Side. They tried to assure concerned residents they are stepping up patrols and remaining vigilant. 

By the summer of 2010, the MTA will debut high speed buses that will travel in express lanes along First and Second Avenues.