By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Met Council on Housing and other tenant advocacy groups rallied for a rent rollback outside Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side last Wednesday evening. Members of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association marched with residents from the 86th Street/Second Avenue Q station and joined the protest in front of the mayor’s residence, with tenant organizers leading chants while Mayor Bill de Blasio was reportedly enjoying a showing of “To Kill a Mockingbird” on Broadway that evening.
Some protesters at the rally performed educational skits outlining the importance of attending the hearings for the Rent Guidelines Board where increases for rent-stabilized apartments are voted on and encouraged tenants to push for a rent rollback this year. Since de Blasio was elected in 2013, the RGB has approved a rent freeze on one-year leases for rent-stabilized tenants but last year approved increases of 1.5% for one-year leases and 2.5% for two-year leases. The last time that a rent freeze was approved in 2016.
Tenant organizers were calling for a rent freeze last year and have called for a rent rollback in previous years when they say that the data, including landlord income and net operating costs, support it.
The vote last June took place just a few weeks after lawmakers in Albany passed sweeping rent reforms to protect tenants, ending high-rent vacancy decontrol, making changes to preferential rent, reforming major capital improvements (MCIs) and other protections.
The schedule for the Rent Guidelines Board meetings and hearings in 2020 have not yet been announced.