By Sabina Mollot
Days after the deadline to renew the Rent Stabilization Laws, with no resolution in sight, the state legislature worked to extend the laws for another five days.
In a joint statement, Albany’s three men in a room, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, confirmed the governor’s signing of the bill, and claimed to be “moving in a positive direction toward a resolution.”
But rather than offer any detail, the statement then went on to tout the legislature’s passage of unrelated bills such as protections against sexual assault on college campuses and investments in infrastructure.
Heastie, however, issued a statement of his own, stressing that the Assembly wouldn’t bend on its efforts to win stronger protections for tenants.
“We have agreed on a short term extender bill with the Governor and the Senate which will allow for more time to come to a final agreement,” said Heastie. “But one thing is clear – the Assembly Majority will not compromise its principles and agree to a package that does not provide critical rent protections for the millions of New Yorkers who depend on these laws.”
The rent law legislation the Democrat-controlled Assembly hopes to pass is wildly different from the package put forth more recently by the Republican-controlled Senate. The Senate hopes to create a database in which tenants would have to verify their incomes. Tenant friendly measures are codifying the Tenant Protection Unit and imposing stiffer penalties on landlords who harass tenants. The Assembly hopes to repeal vacancy decontrol, reform preferential rents, MCIs (major capital improvements) and IAIs (individual apartment improvements) and lower vacancy bonuses.
Meanwhile, tenants continued their protests aimed at getting Cuomo to strengthen the rent laws, while sharing a sad chuckle at the fact that legislation to declare the wood frog as the state amphibian wound up being a higher priority in Albany this week.
“We were all talking about the important bill that passed about the state amphibian,” noted Susan Steinberg, chair of the ST-PCV Tenants Association. “Clearly frogs have it over tenants.”
Steinberg had been at a protest on Thursday evening along with a handful of other Stuyvesant Town residents — and about 100 tenants total – outside of the Plaza. A fundraiser for Cuomo had been taking place inside, although the governor did not attend, explaining that he had to remain in Albany.
Tenants had come armed with a large check for $2,500, which was the price of a seat for the event. The protestors had attempted to get inside with it but were denied entry by police, Steinberg said.
On Friday morning, the ST-PCV Tenants Association sent out an email to neighbors asking them to “keep up the pressure” by either picketing or calling Cuomo or Flanagan.
“If you’re told the Senate passed a good bill for tenants, you can say you have a bridge you’d like to sell them,” read the email, which also included information about two Friday protests. (See below.)
Friday, June 19
11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Picketing in front of Cuomo’s Manhattan office at 633 Third Avenue (between 40th and 41st Streets)
2:00 p.m.: The Alliance for Tenant Power will hold a protest at State Senator Marty Golden’s office in Brooklyn. Golden is a Republican, and even though he should know better, he votes against tenants’ interests.
7408 5th Avenue, Brooklyn
Take the 95th St-Bay Ridge bound R train to the 77th Street station. Golden’s office is several blocks from the station.
IF YOU CAN’T PICKET, please call the governor’s office and demand that he do right by tenants and strengthen the rent laws.
Albany: (518) 474-8390, press 3 (to speak to a staffer; don’t just leave a message)
New York: (212) 681-4580
Call Senate majority leader John Flanagan (Republican). If you’re told the Senate passed a good bill for tenants, you can say you have a bridge you’d like to sell them:
Albany: (518) 455-3171
Long Island: (631) 361-2154