Tenants and homeless protest side by side at ‘Cuomoville’

A protest for stronger rent laws spanned three days outside the governor’s midtown office. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Tenant activists, including some who are homeless, gathered in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s midtown office for three days last week from Wednesday evening to Saturday to demand rent reform in Albany.

A coalition of tenant groups organized the efforts, including New York Communities for Change, Tenant Power NY, Community Voices Heard and others. The groups dubbed the temporary encampment on the sidewalk “Cuomoville,” and linked the governor’s failure to enact stronger rent laws with the increase in homelessness throughout the city.

Gigi Morgan, an activist from Brooklyn who currently lives in a women’s shelter in Harlem, was at the protest on Friday morning after having slept there Thursday night and participating on Wednesday and Thursday.

Protester Gigi Morgan

Morgan said that she was staying at an intake shelter in Brooklyn before moving to the shelter in Harlem and prior to that had been looking for an apartment in East New York but hadn’t been able to find anything affordable.

“East New York isn’t even an upper class area and a room right now is $1,000 a month,” she said.

“There are professionals in shelters now because they’re getting pushed out of their apartments. Adults in their 30s, 40s and 50s shouldn’t have to take on roommates to afford their rent. Seniors are having to take on roommates just so they can pay their rent.”

Morgan added that the governor’s national political aspirations seemed unrealistic given what she feels is a lack of leadership in the state.

“I don’t understand how you’re going to run for the White House if your own house is in shambles,” she said. “We will vote you out of your own house.”

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